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•• Ko kind of literature is so generally attractive as Fiction. Pictures of 
Kfe and manners, and Stories of adventure, are more eagerly received by 
the many than graver productions, however important these latter may be. 
Apulbius is better remembered by his fable of Cupid and Psyche than by 
his abstruser Platonic writings ; and the Decameron of Boccaccio has out- 
lived the Latin treatises, and other learned works of that author." 










London : 

Printed by A. & R. Spotti«woode, 




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C O R I N N E; 
















\thatever defects may exist in my attempt at ren- 
dering " Corinne" into English, be it remembered, that 
we have many words for one meaning, — in French there 
are several significations for the same word. Re- 
petition, an elegance in French, is a barbarism in 
English. Thus I had to contend with a tautology 
almost unmanageable, and even a reiteration of the 
same sentiments. Sentences, harmonious in French, 
lost all agreeable cadence, until entirely reconstructed. 
Madame de StaeTs diffuse manner obliged me also to 
transpose pretty freely. I found, in so doing, many 
self-contradictions, some of which I could not efface. 
Her boldness of condensation, too, and love of vague, 
mysterious sublimity, often left me in doubt as to what 
might be hidden beneath the dazzling veil of her elo- 
quence. It may appear profanation to have altered a 
syllable ; but, having been accustomed to consult the 
taste of my own country, I could not outrage it by 
being more literal. I have taken the liberty of making 
British peasants and children speak their native idiom, 
and have added a few explanatory notes ; occasionally 
availing myself of quotations from more recent au- 
thorities than that of the Baroness. Lest I should 
unconsciously have committed any great mistake, be 
A 3 


it known that the printers of her " eighth corrected 
and revised edition " gave Corinne a military instead 
of a hterary career, and made the Roman mob throw 
handfuls of hon mots into the carriages during the 

Miss Landon had been engaged on the lyric portions 
of the work before Mr. Bentley had decided who was 
to be employed on the prose. We feared, for a while, 
that our own Improvisatrice would be prevented by 
circumstances from gracing the Volume by her name. 
I, therefore, translated Corinne's compositions into 
rhyme. Only one of my essays, however, " The 
Fragment of Corinne's Thoughts," was required. I 
am conscious of its imperfect irregularity ; but, having 
no poetical reputation at stake, I throw myself on the 
mercy of my judges. 

Isabel Hill. 
6, Cecil Street, Strand. 
Jan. 22. 1833. 



Anne Marie Louise Germaine Necker, Baroness de 
Stael Holstem_, was the only child of James Necker, the 
famous financier (a long time the popular idol in France), 
and of Susanna Curchod, the daughter of a poor Swiss cler- 
gyman, whOj in the sequestered village of Grassy, bestowed 
upon her as thorough an education as fell to the lot of any 
woman in Europe. 

Gibbon, the historian, visited the father of Mademoiselle 
Curchod, and became a captive to her charms. He pros- 
pered in his suit ; but such an obscure connection was not 
agreeable to his father, who threatened to disinherit him if 
he persisted in it. He obeyed the parental command, like 
a dutiful son and a very philosophical lover ; and the 
young lady, on her part, seems to have borne the separation 
with becoming resignation and cheerfulness. 

After her father's death. Mademoiselle Curchod taught 
a school in Geneva ; where she became acquainted with 
M. Necker, the gentleman whom she afterwards married. 
He was a native of Geneva, and at that time a banker in 

Madame de Stael was born in Paris, in 176*6. In her 
infancy, she was noticed for a remarkable degree of bright- 
ness, gaiety, and freedom. 

In consequence of her mother's system of education, she 

* For the following Memoir, tho Editor of the " Standard Novels " is indebted 
to Mrs. Child's Life of Madame de Stael, to Madame Junot's Memoirs, and to 
Ix>rd Byron's historical notes to the fourth canto of Childe Harold. 
A 4, 


was constantly accustomed to conversation beyond her years. 
The world must have somewhat softened the severity of 
Madame Necker's opinions : for we find that she often 
allowed her daughter to assist at the representation of the 
best dramatic pieces. Her pleasures, as well as her duties, 
were exercises of intellect ; and nature, which had originally 
bestowed great gifts, was assisted by every possible method. 
In this way her vigorous faculties acquired a prodigious 

The following account of her is from the Memoir of 
Baron de Grimm : — 

"^ While M. Necker passes decrees which cover him with 
glory, and will render his administration eternally dear to 
France ; while Madame Necker renounces all the sweets of 
society to devote herself to the establishment of a Hospital 
of Charity, in the parish of St. Sulpicius, their daughter, a 
girl of twelve years old, who already evinces talents above 
her age, amuses herself with writing little comedies, after 
the manner of the semi-dramas of M. de St. Mark. She 
has just completed one, in two acts, entitled the ' Incon- 
veniences of the Life led at Paris,' which is not only asto- 
nishing for her age, but appears even very superior to her 
models. It represents a mother who had two daughters^ 
one brought up in all the simplicity of rural life, and the 
other amid the grand airs of the capital. The latter is the 
favourite, from the talents and graces she displays; but 
this mother, falling into misfortunes, from the loss of a 
law-suit, soon learns which of the two is in reality most 
deserving of her affection. The scenes of this little drama 
are well connected together, the characters are well sup- 
ported, and the developement of the intrigue is natural and 
fuU of interest. M. Marmontel, who saw it performed in 
the drawing-room at St. Ouen, the country-house of M. 
Necker, by the author and some of her young companions, 
was affected by it even to tears." 

As might be expected, the extreme vivacity of Made- 
moiselle Necker was continually betraying her into sins 
against her mother's ideas of order and decorum. On this 
subject, she made a thousand good resolutions, but was 
always sure to forget them the moment she needed them. 


She could not restrain her exuberant fancy and overflowing 

Mademoiselle Necker resided at Coppet from 1781 to 
1787, when her father was restored to office, and his family 
accompanied him to Paris. 

During her stay in Switzerland she wrote a sentimental 
comedy, called " Sophia, or Secret Sentiments," founded on 
a story of ill-directed and unhappy love ; published when 
she was twenty-one years of age. 

Immediately after she came to Paris, she finished her 
tragedy of " Lady Jane Grey," which has had considerable 
reputation. Soon after, she wrote, but never published, 
another tragedy, called " Montmorency," in which the part 
of Cardinal de Richelieu is said to have been sketched with 
great spirit. These early productions had prominent de- 
fects, as well as beauties. They were marked by that 
perfect harmony between thought and expression which 
always constituted her most delightful peculiarity, in con- 
versation or writing ; but her friends considered them 
valuable, principally on account of the promise they gave 
of future greatness. To the world they are objects of curio- 
sity, as the first records in the history of an extraordinary 

Before her twentieth year, she wrote the " Three Tales,** 
which were not published till 1 795:, nearly ten years after. 
She herself attached very little value to these light productions. 

If she had attracted much notice in Switzerland, before 
her mind had attained the fulness of its majestic stature, 
it will readily be believed that she excited an unusual sen- 
sation when she appeared in the brilliant circles of Paris. 
Her hands and arms were finely formed, and of a most 
transparent whiteness. She seldom covered them — con- 
fessing, with the child-like frankness which gave such an 
endearing charm to her powerful character, that she was 
resolved to make the most of the only personal beauty nature 
had given her.* True, she had none of the usual preten- 

* Her feet are said to have been clunnsy. This circumstance gave rise to a 
pun, which annoyed her a little. On some occasion she represented a statue, 
the face of which was concealt-d. A gentleman being asked to guess who tht 
gtatue was, glanced at the block of marble on which she stood, and answered, 
•• Je vojj kpied de Stael" {le pi^destal). 


sions to be called a handsome woman; but there was an 
intellectual splendour about her face that arrested and 
ri vetted attention. " No expression was permanent ; for 
her whole soul was in her countenance, and it took the 
character of every passing emotion. When in perfect re- 
pose, her long eye-lashes gave something of heaviness and 
languor to her usually animated physiognomy ; but when 
excited, her magnificent dark eyes flashed with genius, and 
seemed to announce her ideas before she could utter them, 
as lightning precedes the thunder. There was nothing of 
restlessness in her features ; there was even something of 
indolence ; but her vigorous form, her animated gestures, 
her graceful and strongly marked attitudes, gave a singular 
degree of directness and energy to her discourse. There 
was something dramatic about her, even in dress, wliich, 
while it was altogether free from ridiculous exaggeration, 
never failed to convey an idea of something more pic- 
turesque than the reigning fashion. When she first en- 
tered a room, she walked with a slow and grave step. A 
slight degree of timidity made it necessary for her to col- 
lect her faculties when she was about to attract the notice 
of a party. This cloud of embarrassment did not at first 
permit her to distinguish any thing ; but her face lighted 
up in proportion to the friends she recognised." 

M. Necker's wealth, and his daughter's extraordinary 
powers of pleasing, soon attracted suitors. ' Her parents 
were extremely ambitious for her ; and the choice was not 
decided without difficulty ; for she insisted upon not being 
obliged to leave France, and her mother made it a point 
that she should not marry a Catholic. We are told that 
she refused several distinguished men. Sir John Sinclair, 
in his Correspondence, speaks of a projected union be- 
tween the son of Lord Rivers and Mademoiselle Necker, 
and regrets that it did not take place, as it would have 
withdrawn her family from the vortex of French politics ; 
but I find no allusion elsewhere to this English marriage, 
and Sir John does not inform us upon what authority his 
remark is founded. In her works, Madame de Stael 
constantly expresses great admiration of England, and she 


chose to give her Corinne an English lover. Whether 
this taste^ so singular in a Frenchwoman^ had any thing 
to do with her early recollections, 1 know not. 

Her fate was at last decided by Eric- Magnus, Baron 
de Stael Holstein, a Swedish nobleman, secretary to the 
ambassador from the court of Stockholm. He is said to 
have had an amiable disposition, a fine person, and courtly 
manners ; but we are not told that in point of intellect he 
possessed any distinguished claims to the hand of Mademoi- 
selle Necker. Like a good many personages in history, he 
seems to have accidentally fallen upon greatness by pleasing 
the fancies of his superiors, or coming in contact with 
their policy. He was a favourite with Marie Antoinette_, 
who constantly advanced his interests by her patronage ; 
he was likewise the bosom friend of Count Fersen, who 
at that time had great influence at court. 

The queen warmly urged his suit. Gustavus 1 11.^ will- 
ing to please Marie Antoinette, and to secure such a large 
fortune to one of his subjects, recalled the Swedish am- 
bassador, and appointed the Baron de Stael in his place, 
promising that he should enjoy that high rank for many, 
years ; and the lover himself, in order to remove the 
scruples the young lady had with regard to marrying a 
foreigner, pledged his honour that she should never be 
urged to quit France. 

Sir. John Sinclair tells us that M. Necker was supposed 
to favour the match in hopes of being restored to office 
through the influence of the Queen and Count Fersen ; 
but such a motive is not at all consistent with the cha- 
racter Madame de Stael has given of her father, who, she 
says, " in every circumstance of his life preferred the least 
of his duties to the most important of his interests." 

She herself probably imagined the connection might be 
of use to her beloved parents ; and her ambition might 
have been tempted by her lover's rank as a nobleman and 
ambassador ; at least it is difficult to account in any other 
manner for her union with a foreigner considerably older 
than herself, and with whom she had few points of sym- 
pathy in character or pursuits : it was a notorious fact 


that she was never over-fond of the match, and entered 
into the necessary arrangements with great coldness. 

She was married to the Baron de Stael in 1786, and 
the bridegroom received, on his wedding-day, eighty 
thousand pounds as her dowry. 

This union, like most marriages of policy, was far from 
being a happy one. Had Madame de Stael been a heart- 
less, selfish character, such a destiny would have been 
good enough ; but they were indeed cruel, who assisted in 
imposing such icy fetters on a soul so ardent, generous, 
and affectionate as hers. Nature, as usual, rebelled against 
the tyranny of ambition. We are told by her friends, 
and indeed there is internal evidence in most of her works, 
that her life was one long sigh for domestic love. 

When she became a mother, she used playfully to say, 
'' I will force my daughter to make a marriage of incli- 

The impetuosity of an unsatisfied spirit gave a singular 
degree of vehemence to all her attachments ; her gratitude 
and friendship took the colouring of ardent love. She was 
extremely sensitive where her heart was concerned ; and 
at the slightest neglect, real or imaginary, from her friends, 
she would exclaim with bitter emphasis, " Never, never 
have I been loved as I love others ! " 

When she was the most carried away by the excitement 
of society, and the impetuous inspiration of her own spirit, 
it was impossible for a friend to glide away unperceived by 
her. This watchful anxiety was the source of frequent 
reproaches : she was for ever accusing her friends of a 
diminution in their love. Madame de Saussure once said 
to her, " Your friends have to submit each morning to re- 
newed charges of coldness and neglect." — " What matter 
for that," she replied, ^' if I love them the better every 
evening ? " She used to say, '^ I would go to the scaffold, 
in order to try the friendship of those who accompanied 

Yet with all her extreme susceptibility of tenderness 
and admiration, she was not blind to the slightest defects. 
With her, character always passed under a close and 
rigorous examination ; and if she sometimes wounded the 


Tanity of her friends by being too clear-sighted to their 
imperfections, they were soothed by her enthusiastic ad- 
miration of all their great and good qualities. Indeed she 
might well be forgiven by others, since her acute powers 
of analysis were directed against her own character with 
the most unsparing severity. 

The winter after Madame de Stael's marriage, her 
father was exiled forty leagues from Paris, and she was 
with him during the greater part of his absence. Jn the 
August following, 1788, he was recalled with added 
honours, and his daughter, of course became one of the 
most important personages in France. But while she 
formed the centre of attraction in the fashionable and in- 
tellectual society of Paris, she did not relinquish her taste 
for literature. In 1789^ she published her famous Letters 
on the Character and Writings of J. J. Rousseau. The 
judicious will not approve of all the opinions expressed in 
this book ; and perhaps she herself would have viewed 
things differently when riper years and maturer judgment 
had somewhat subdued the artificial glare, which youth 
and romance are so apt to throw over wrong actions and 
false theories. '' It is, however, a glowing and eloquent 
tribute to the genius of that extraordinary man ; and the 
acuteness shown in her remarks on the Emilius, and the 
Treatise on the Social Contract, is truly wonderful in a 
young woman so much engrossed by the glittering dis- 
tractions of fashionable life." 

At first only a few copies were printed for her intimate 
friends ; but a full edition was soon published without her 
consent. The Baron de Grimm, who saw one of the 
private copies, speaks of it with great admiration, as one 
of the most remarkable productions of the time. 

Before the year expired, we find her involved in anxiety 
and trouble, occasioned by the second exile of her father. 
His dismission from office excited great clamour among 
the populace, who regarded him as the friend of liberty 
and the people. This feeling was openly expressed by 
closing the theatres, as for some great national calamity. 
The consequence was an almost immediate recall ; and 
Madame de Stael warmly exulted in tlie triumph of a 


parent, whom she seems to have regarded with a feeUng 
little short of idolatry. 

^' From the moment of his return, in July, 1789, to 
the period of his final fall from power, in September, 1 790, 
M. Necker was all-powerful in France ; and Madame de 
Stael, of course, was a person of proportional consequence in 
the literary, philosophical, and political society about the 
court, and in those more troubled circles from which the 
Revolution was just beginning to go forth in its most 
alarming forms. Her situation enabled her to see the 
sources, however secret, of aU the movements that were 
then agitating the very foundations of civil order in France ; 
and she had talent to understand them with great clearness 
and truth. She witnessed the violent removal of the king 
to Paris on the 6th of October ; she was present at the first 
meeting of the National Convention, and heard Mirabeau 
and Barnave ; she followed the procession to Notre Dame, 
to hear Louis XVI. swear to a constitution, which virtually 
dethroned him ; and from that period, her mind seems to 
have received a poHtical tendency, that it never afterward 

^' In 1790 she passed a short time with her father at 
Coppet, but soon returned to Paris. 

" She associated, on terms of intimacy, with Talleyrand, 
for whom she wrote the most important part of his ' Report 
on Public Instruction,' in 1790. She likewise numbered 
among her friends La Fayette, Narbonne, Sieyes, and other 
popular leaders." 

When, amid the universal consternation, there could be 
no one found to shelter the proscribed victims of the 
despotic mob, Madame de Stael had the courage to offer 
some of them an asylum, hoping the residence of a foreign 
ambassador would not be searched. She shut them up in 
the remotest chamber, and herself spent the night in watch- 
ing the streets. 

M. de Narbonne was concealed in her house, when the 
officers of pohce came to make the much-dreaded " domi- 
ciliary visit." She knew that he could not escape, if a 
rigorous search were made, and that if taken, he would be 
beheaded that very day. She had sufficient presence of 


mind to keep quite calm. Partly by her eloquence, and 
partly by a familiar pleasantry, which flattered them_, she 
persuaded the men to go away without infringing upon 
the rights of a foreign ambassador. 

Dr. Bollman, the same generous Hanoverian who after- 
ward attempted to rescue La Fayette from the prison of 
Olmutz, offered to undertake the dangerous business of 
conveying Narbonne to England ; and he effected it in 
safety by means of a passport belonging to one of his 

As Sweden refused to acknowledge the French republic, 
the situation of the Baron de Stael became very uncom- 
fortable at Paris; and he was recalled in 1792, a short 
time before the death of Gustavus III. In September, 
1792, Madame de Stael set out for Switzerland^ in a 
coach and six, with servants in full livery ; she was induced 
to do this, from the idea that the people would let her 
depart more freely, if they saw her in the style of an am- 
bassadress. This was ill-judged: a shabby post-chaise 
would have conveyed her more safely. A ferocious crowd 
stopped the horses, calling out loudly that she was carrying 
away the gold of the nation. A gendarme conducted her 
through half Paris to the Hotel de Ville, on the staircase 
of which several persons had been massacred. No woman 
had at that time perished ; but the next day the Princess 
Lamballe was murdered by the populace. Madame de Stael 
was three hours in making her way through the crowds 
that on all sides assailed her with cries of death. They 
had nothing against her personally, and probably did not 
know who she was ; but a carriage and liveries, in their 
eyes, warranted sentence of execution. She was then preg- 
nant ; and a gendarme, who was placed in the coach, was 
moved with compassion at her situation and excessive terror : 
he promised to defend her at the peril of his life. She 
says, " I alighted from my carriage, in the midst of an 
armed multitude, and proceeded under an arch of pikes. 
In ascending the staircase, which was likewise bristled 
with spears, a man pointed toward me the one which he 
held in his hand ; but my gendarme pushed it away 
with his sabre. The President of the Commune was 


Robespierre ; and I breathed again^ because I had es- 
caped from the populace ; yet what a protector was Ro- 
bespierre ! His secretary had left his beard untouched for a 
fortnight, that he might escape all suspicion of aristocracy. 
I showed my passports, and stated the right I had to depart 
as ambassadress of Sweden. Luckily for me, Manuel ar- 
rived : he was a man of good feelings, though he was 
hurried away by his passions. In an interview, a few days 
before, I had wrought upon his kind disposition so that he 
consented to save two victims of proscription. He imme- 
diately offered to become responsible for me ; and con- 
ducting me out of that terrible place, he locked me up with 
my maid-servant in his closet. Here we waited six hours, 
half dead with hunger and fright. The window of the 
apartment looked on the Place de Greve ; and we saw the 
assassins returning from the prisons, with their arms bare 
and bloody, and uttering horrible cries. 

''^ My coach with its baggage had remained in the mid- 
dle of the square. I saw a tall man in the dress of a 
national guard, who for two hours defended it from the 
plunder of the populace ; I wondered how he could think of 
such trifling things amid such awful circumstances. In 
the evening, this man entered my room with Manuel. He 
was Santerre, the brewer, afterward so notorious for his 
cruelty. He had several times witnessed my father's dis- 
tribution of corn among the poor of the Faytxhourg St. Aru 
toine, and was willing to show his gratitude. 

" Manuel bitterly deplored the assassinations that were 
going on, and which he had not power to prevent. An 
abyss was opened behind the steps of every man who had 
acquired any authority, and if he receded he must fall into 
it. He conducted me home at night in his carriage ; being 
afraid of losing his popularity by doing it in the day. The 
lamps were not lighted in the streets, and we met men 
with torches, the glare of which was more frightful than 
the darkness. Manuel was often stopped and asked who 
he was, but when he answered Le Procureur de la Conu 
mune, this revolutionary dignity was respectfully re- 

A new passport was given Madame de Stael, and she 


■was allowed to depart with one maid-servant, and a gen^ 
darme to attend her to the frontier. After some difficul- 
ties of a less alarming nature, she arrived at Coppet in 

During the following year, her feelings were too pain- 
fully engrossed in watching the approaching political crisis, 
to admit of her making any new literary exertion. 

She and her father having always strongly advocated a 
constitutional form of government, felt identified with the 
cause of rational freedom, and watched the ruin of the 
hopes they had formed with sad earnestness and bitter 

They have been frequently accused by their political 
enemies of having excited and encouraged the horrible 
disorders of the Revolution ; indeed, the rancour of party- 
spirit went so far as to accuse Madame de Stael, — the 
glorious, the amiable Madame de Stael! — of having been 
among the brutal mob at Versailles, disguised as a PoiS' 
sarde. Nothing could, in fact, be more untrue than charges 
of this description. Zealous friends of the equal rights of 
man, M. Necker and his sagacious daughter saw plainly 
that a change was needed in the French government, and' 
no doubt they touched the springs, which set the great 
machine in motion ; but they could not foresee its fright- 
ful accumulation of power, or the ruinous work to which 
it would be directed. The limited monarchy of England 
was always a favourite model with Madame de Stael. In 
her conversation, and in her writings, she has declared that 
the French people needed such a form of government, and, 
sooner or later, they would have it. 

Had the character of Louis XVI. being adapted to the 
crisis in which he lived, her wishes might have been real^ 
ised ; but she evinced her usual penetration when she said 
of that monarch, " He would have made the mildest of 
despots, or the most constitutional of kings ; but he waa 
totally unfit for the period when public opinion was mak- 
ing a transition from one to the other." To save the 
royal family from untimely death was the object of Madame 
de Staiil's unceasing prayers and efforts. Having been de- 
feated in a plan to effect their escape from France, we find 


her during this agitating period silently awaiting the pro- 
gress of events, which she dared not attempt to control; 
but when Marie Antoinette was condemned to be beheaded, 
she could no longer restrain her agonised spirit. In Au- 
gustj 1 793, heedless of the danger she incurred_, she boldly 
published Reflections on the Process against the Queen. 
" A short but most eloquent appeal to the French nation, 
beseeching them to pause and reflect before they should 
thus disgrace themselves with the world, and with pos- 
terity." History informs us how entirely this and all 
other disinterested efforts failed to check the fury of the 
populace. The Revolution rushed madly on in its infernal 
course of blood and crime. 

With the death of Gustavus III. there came a change 
of politics in Sweden. The Baron de Stael was again sent 
to Paris, the only ambassador from a monarchy to the new 
republic. Most of his old friends were proscribed, or im- 
prisoned, and many of them had perished on the scaffold ; 
even the family of his wife did not dare to reside in 
France. To secure popularity in his precarious situation, 
he gave 3000 francs to the poor of La Croix Rouge, a 
section particularly distinguished for its republicanism. 
He could not, however, feel secure amid the frightful 
scenes that were passing around him ; and he soon has-» 
tened back to Sweden, where he remained until after the 
death of Robespierre. " For a short time, during those 
dreadful months, which have been so appropriately termed 
the Reign of Terror, Madame de Stael was in England ; 
and, what is remarkable, she was in England, poor; for 
the situation of the two countries at that crisis prevented 
her receiving the funds necessary for her support. She 
lived in great retirement at Richmond, with two of her 
countrymen, no less distinguished than Narbonne and Tal- 
leyrand, both, like herself, anxiously watching the progress 
of affairs in France, and hoping for some change that would 
render it safe for them to return. It is a curious item in 
the fickle cruelty of the Revolution, that these three persons, 
who during such a considerable portion of their lives ex- 
ercised an influence, not only on their country, but on the 
>vorld, were now deprived of their accustomed means of- 


subsistence ; and it is worthy of notice, as a trait in their 
national character, that they were not depressed or dis- 
couraged by it. 

" All they had, when thrown into the common stock, 
was merely sufficient to purchase a kind of carriage, which 
would hold b^jt two. As they rode about to see the country, 
Narbonne and Talleyrand alternately mounted as footmen be- 
hind, breaking out the glass of the chaise, in order to carry 
on a conversation with those inaide. Madame de Stael 
has often said, that in these conversations she has witnessed 
and enjoyed more of the play of the highest order of talent 
than at any other period of her life. Talleyrand went 
from England to the United States. Narbonne, if I mis- 
take not, went to the Continent ; and Madame de Stael 
ventured back to France in 1795-" Her husband was 
again ambassador at Paris, where he remained, calmly re- 
ceiving the alternate insolence and flattery of the populace, 
until 1799:, when he was recalled by the young king, Gus- 
tavus Adolphus. All beneath the surface in France was, 
at that time, heaving and tumultuous ; but men had been 
so terrified and wearied with the work of blood, that so- 
ciety was for a time restored to external stillness. 

" At such a period, a mind like Madame de Stael's had 
a powerful influence. Her saloon was a resort for all the 
restless politicians of the day, and she was once denounced 
to the Convention as a person dangerous to the state ; but 
her character, as wife of a foreign ambassador, protected 
her ; and she even ventured to publish a pamphlet on the 
prospect of peace, addressed to Mr. Pitt and the French 
people, which contained remarks opposed to the views of 
the reigning demagogue. This pamphlet was much praised 
by Mr. Fox in the English parliament. 

The principal charge brought against her by the Di- 
rectory was the courage and zeal with which she served 
the suffering emigrants : she would have been imprisoned 
on this account had it not been for the friendly exertions 
of Barras. 

One diy, an emigrant, whose brother was arrested and 
condemned to be shot, came, in great agitation to beg her 
to save his life. She recollected that she had some ae- 


quaintance with General Lemoine_, who had a right to sus- 
pend the judgments of the mihtary commission. Thanking 
Heaven for the idea, she instantly went to his house. 

At first he abruptly refused her petition. She says, 
'' My heart throbbed at the sight of that brother, who 
might think that I was not employing the words best fitted 
to obtain what I asked. I was afraid of saying too much 
or too little ; of losing the fatal hour, after which all would 
be over ; or of neglecting an argument which might prove 
successful. I looked by turns at the clock and the General 
to see whether his soul or time would approach the term 
most quickly. Twice he took the pen to sign a reprieve, 
and twice the fear of committing himself restrained him. 
At last, he was unable to refuse Us; and may Heaven 
shower blessings on him for the deed. The reprieve ar- 
rived in season, and innocence was saved ! " 

In 1796, Madame de Stael was summoned to Coppet to 
attend the death-bed of her mother. She has given us a 
very interesting account of her father's unwearied tender- 
ness toward his dying wife, in the preface to M. Necker's 
MSS. published by her after his death. She remained to 
soothe her father under his severe affliction for nearly a 
year. During this time she wrote her Essay on the Pas- 
sions, divided into two parts : — 1 st, their Influence on the 
Happiness of Individuals ; 2dly, on the Happiness of Na- 
tions. This work vv-as suggested by the 'fearful scenes of 
the French Revolution, and probably could not have been 
written except by one who had witnessed the reckless violence 
and unnatural excitement of that awful period. 

We have already mentioned that Madame de Stael's 
affections were supposed to have small share in her mar- 
riage. The coolness of her feelings towards the Baron de 
Stael was considerably increased by his heedless extrava- 
gance. On his wedding-day he is said to have assigned 
all his ministerial allowance to his friend. Count Fersen ; 
and the princely dowry he received with his wife was soon 
nearly dissipated by his thoughtless expenditure. Such 
was the embarrassment of his affairs, that Madame de 
Stael thought it a duty to place herself and her three chil- 
dren under the protection of her father. Thus the pro- 


jectors of this match met the usual fate of those who 
attempt to thwart nature, and take destiny out of the hands 
of Providence : it not only made the parties wretched, but 
it did not even serve the ambitious purposes for which the 
sacrifice is supposed to have been made. 

Her separation from her husband was not of long con- 
tinuance. Illness, and approaching age required a wife's 
attentions ; and Madame de Stael, true to the kind im- 
pulses of her generous nature, immediately returned to 
him. As soon as he could bear removal, she attempted^ 
by slow journeys, to bring him to her father's residence, 
that she and her children might make the evening of his 
days as cheerful as possible. It was, however, destined to 
be otherwise ; he died at Poligni, on his way to Coppet, 
May 9th, 1802. 

Madame de Stael's Essays on the Passions led her 
mind to a series of enquiries, which ended in her celebrated 
Essay on Literature ; immediately after the completion of 
which Madame de Stael went to Paris, where she arrived 
on the 9th of November, 1 799 — the very day that placed 
the destiny of France in the hands of Bonaparte. Her 
imagination seems to have been, at first, dazzled by the 
military glory of Napoleon. Lavalette was introduced to 
her at Talleyrand's, at the time when every body was talk- 
ing of the brilliant campaigns in Italy. He says, " During 
dinner, the praises Madame de Stael lavished on the con- 
queror of Italy had all the wildness, romance, and ex- 
aggeration of poetry. When we left the table, the com- 
pany withdrew to a small room to look at the portrait of 
the hero ; and as I stepped back to let her walk in, she 
said, ' How shall I dare to pass before an aide-de-camp of 
Bonaparte ! ' My confusion was so great that she also 
felt a Uttle of it, and Talleyrand laughed at us." 

But this admiration of Bonaparte was destined to be 
short-lived. From the moment she understood him, she 
became one of the most active and determined of his 
opposers. In the beginning of his reign, when policy 
compelled him to be gradual in his usurpation of power, 
she was not a little troublesome to him. In the organi- 
sation of the new government, she is said to have fairly 
a 3 


out-manceuvred him, and to have placed the celebrated 
Benjamin Constant in one of the assemblies_, in spite of his 
efforts to the contrary. 

Bonaparte kept close watch upon her ; and his spies 
soon informed him that people always left Madame de 
Stael's house with less confidence in him than they had 
when they entered it. 

Being anxious for a pretext to banish her, he seized 
upon the first that offered, which happened to be the pub- 
lication of a political pamphlet by her father,, in 1802. 
On the pretence that she had contributed to the falsehoods^ 
which he said it contained^ he requested Talleyrand to in- 
form her that she must quit Paris. This was a dehcate 
office for an old acquaintance to perform ; but Talleyrand 
was even then used to difficult positions. His political 
history has proved that no fall, however precipitate, can 
bewilder the selfish acuteness of his faculties, or impair the 
marvellous pliancy of his motions : his attachment to 
places rather than persons is another and stronger point of 
resemblance between him and a certain household animal. 

His characteristic finesse was shown in his manner of 
performing the embarrassing office assigned him by the 
First Consul. He called upon Madame de Stael, and after 
a few compliments, said, "^ I hear, madam, you are going to 
take a journey." — "^Oh, no ! it is a mistake, I have no 
such intention." — " Pardon me, I was informed that you 
were going to Switzerland." — " I have no such project, I 
assure you." — ^' But I have been told, on the best authority,. 
that you would quit Paris in three days." Madame de 
Stael took the hint, and went to Coppet. 
■ In the mean time, however, before she left Paris, she 
completed a novel in six volumes, under the title of Del- 
phine, which was published in 1802. 

In 1803, Madame de Stael ventured to reside within ten 
leagues of Paris, occasionally going there, to visit the mu- 
seum and the theatres. Some of her enemies informed 
Bonaparte that she received a great many visiters, and he 
immediately banished her to the distance of forty leagues 
from the capital ; a sentence which was rigorously enforced. 

Her father, conscious how much she needed the exhila- 


rating influence of society, had always encouraged her visits 
to Paris ; and now that she was exiled from the scene of 
so many triumphs and so much enjoyment, he strongly 
favoured her project of visiting Germany. Accordingly, in 
the winter of 1803, she went to Frankfort, Weimar, and 
Berhn. At Frankfort, her claughter, then five years old, 
was taken dangerously ill. Madame de Stael knew no one 
in that city, and was ignorant of the language ; even the 
physician to whose care she intrusted the child scarcely 
spoke a word of French. Speaking of her distress on this 
occasion, she exclaims, " Oh, how my father shared with 
me in all my trouble ! What letters he wrote me ! What 
a number of consultations of physicians, all copied with his 
own hand, he sent me from Geneva ! " 

The child recovered, and»she proceeded to Weimar, so 
justly called the Athens of Germany; and afterward to 
Berlin, where she was received with distinguished kindness 
by the king and queen, and the young Prince Louis. At 
Weimar she writes, " I resumed my courage on seeing, 
through all the difficulties of the language, the immense 
intellectual riches that existed out of France. I learned to 
read German ; I hstened attentively to Goethe and Wie- 
land, who, fortunately for me, spoke French extremely 
well. I comprehended the mind and genius of Schiller, in 
spite of the difficulty he felt in expressing himself in a 
foreign language. The society of the Duke and Duchess 
of Weimar pleased me exceedingly. I passed three months 
there, during which the study of German literature gave 
me all the occupation my mind required. My father 
wished me to pass the winter in Germany, and not return 
to him until spring. Alas ! alas ! how much I calculated 
on carrying back to him the harvest of new ideas which I 
was going to collect in this journey. He was frequently 
telling me that my letters and conversation were all that 
kept up his connection with the world. His active and 
penetrating mind excited me to think, for the sake of the 
pleasure of talking to him. If I observed, it was to con- 
vey my impressions to him ; if I Ustened, it was to repeat 
to him." 

AJas ! this sacred tie, the strongest, perhaps, that ever 
a 4 


bound the hearts of parent and child, was soon to be burst 
asunder. At Berlin_, Madame de Stael was suddenly 
stopped in her travels, by the news of her father's danger- 
ous illness. She hastened back with an impatience that 
would fain have annihilated time and space ; but he died 
before she arrived. This event happened in April, 1804. 
At first, she refused to believe the tidings. She was her- 
self so full of life, that she could not realise death. Her 
father had such remarkable freshness of imagination, such 
cheerfulness, such entire sympathy with youthful feeling, 
that she "forgot the difference in their ages. She could not 
bear to think of him as old ; and once, when she heard a 
person call him so, she resented it highly, and said she 
never wished to see any body who repeated such words. 
And now, when they told hei^that the old man was ga- 
thered to his fathers, she could not and she would not 
believe it. 

Madame de Saussure was at Coppet when M. Necker 
died ; and as soon as her services to him were ended, she 
went to meet her friend, on her melancholy return from 
Germany, under the protection of M. de Schlegel, her son's 
German tutor. She says, the convulsive agony of her grief 
was absolutely frightful to witness; it seemed as if life 
must have perished in the struggle. Her friends tried 
every art to soothe her ; and sometimes for a moment she 
appeared to give herself up to her usual animation and 
eloquence ; but her trembling hands and quivering lips 
soon betrayed the internal conflict, and the transient calm 
was succeeded by a violent burst of anguish. Yet even 
during these trying moments she displayed her characteristic 
kindness of heart : she constantly tried to check her sor- 
row, that she might give such a turn to the conversation as 
would put M. de Schlegel at his ease, and enable him to 
show his great abilities to advantage. 

The impression produced upon Madame de Stael by her 
father's death seems to have been as deep and abiding as 
it was powerful. Through her whole life she carried him 
in her heart. She believed that his spirit was her guardian 
angel; and when her thoughts were most pure and ele- 
vated, she said it was because he was with her. She iu- 


voiced him in her prayers ; and when any happy event 
occurred, she used to say, with a sort of joyful sadness, 
" My father has procured this for me." His miniature 
became an object of superstitious love. Once, and once 
only, she parted with it for a short time. Having herself 
found great consolation, during illness, in looking at those 
beloved features, she sent it to her sick daughter, imagin- 
ing it would have the same effect upon her ; telling her in 
her letter, " Look upon that, and it will comfort you in 
your sufferings." 

To the latest period of her life, the sight of an old man 
affected her, because it reminded her of her father ; and 
the lavishness with which she gave her sympathy and her 
purse to the distresses of the aged proved the fervour of her 
filial recollections. 

Though Madame de Stael's thoughts had always been 
busy with the world, she was never destitute of religious 
sensibility. Conscious as she was of her intellectual 
strength, she did not attempt to wrestle with the mysteries 
of God. Her beautiful mind incHned rather to reverence 
and superstition than to unbelief. No doubt, religion was 
with her more a matter of feeling than of faith ; but she 
respected the feeling, and never suffered the pride of reason 
to expel it from her heart. There is something beauti- 
fully pathetic in the exclamation that burst from her, when 
her little daughter was dangerously ill at Frankfort : " Oh, 
what would become of a mother, trembling for the life of 
her child, if it were not for prayer ! " 

Her father's death gave a more permanent influence to 
such feelings. If I may use the expression, her character 
became less volcanic, while it lost nothing of its power. 

During the lifetime of M. Necker, Madame de Stael 
remained in childish ignorance of all the common affairs of 
life. She was in the habit of applying to him for advice 
about every thing, even her dress. The unavoidable result 
was that she was very improvident. Her father used to 
compare her to a savage, who would sell his hut in the 
morning, without thinking what would ^become of him at 

When her guide and support was taken from her^ no 


wonder that she felt as if it would be absolutely impossible 
for her to do any thing without him. For a short time she 
gave herself up to the most discouraging fancies. She 
thought her fortune would be wasted, her children would 
not be educated, her servants would not obey her, — in 
short, that every thing would go wrong. But her anxiety 
to do every thing as he would have done it gave her a 
motive for exertion, and inspired her with strength. She 
administered upon his estate with remarkable abiHty^ and 
arranged her affairs with a most scrupulous regard to the 
future interests of her children. 

Her health as well as her spirits sunk rapidly under the 
oppression of grief. Her friends advised new scenes and 
change of chmate. Paris was still closed against her; 
though M. Necker, with his dying hand, had written to 
assure Bonaparte that his daughter had no share in his 
political pamphlet, and to beseech that her sentence of exile 
might be repealed after his death. 

Thus situated, her thoughts turned toward Italy. Sis- 
mondi accompanied her in this journey. They arrived 
just when the fresh glory of a southern spring mantled the 
earth and the heavens. She found a renovating influence 
in the beautiful sky and the balmy climate of this lovely 
land, which she, with touching superstition, ascribed to 
the intercession of her father. " She passed more than a 
year in Italy ; visiting Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, 
Naples, and other more inconsiderable cities, with lively 
interest and great minuteness of observation. The im- 
pression produced by her talent and character is still fresh 
iu the memories of those who saw her." 

She returned to Switzerland in the summer of 1805, 
and passed a year among her friends at Coppet and Geneva: 
during this period she began Corinne, the splendid record 
which she has left the world of her visit to Italy. This 
work was published in 1802, and perhaps obtained more 
extensive and immediate fame than any thing she ever 
wrote. It was received with one burst of applause by all 
the literati of Europe. Mr. Jeffery, in his review of it, 
pronounced Madame de Stael " the greatest writer in 


France, after the time of Voltaire and Rousseau, and the 
greatest female writer of any age or country." 

Her eldest son, Augustus, Baron de Stael, was at this 
time in Paris, pursuing his studies preparatory to entering 
the Polytechnic school ; and after the completion of Co- 
rinne, Madame de Stael, in order to he as near him as 
possible, went to reside at Auxerre, and afterward at 
Rouen, from whence she could daily send to Paris. She 
led a very retired life, and was extremely prudent about 
intermeddhng with poHtics. Those who had any thing to 
hope or to fear from the Emperor did not dare to main- 
tain any intercourse with her ; and of course she was not 
thronged with visiters, in those days of despotism and ser- 
viUty: all she wished was liberty to superintend the pub- 
lication of Corinne, and to watch over the education of 
her son. 

But all this moderation and caution did not satisfy 
Bonaparte. He wanted to interdict her writing any thing, 
even if it were, like Corinne, totally unconnected with 
politics. She was again banished from France ; and, by a 
sad coincidence, she received the order on the 9th of April, 
the anniversary of her father's death. When she returned 
to Coppet, all her movements were watched by the spies 
of government, so that existence became a complete state 
of bondage. To use her own words, she was ^' tormented 
in all the interests and relations of life, and on all the sen- 
sible points of her character." She still had warm and 
devoted friends, who could not be withdrawn from her by 
motives of interest or fear ; but, with all the consolations 
of fame and friendship, it was sufficiently inconvenient 
and harassing to be thus fettered and annoyed. 

As a means of employing her mind, which, ever since 
the death of her father, had been strongly prone to indulge 
in images of gloom and terror, Madame de Stael indus- 
triously continued the study of German literature and phi- 
losophy. Her acquaintance with M. de Schlegel and M. 
Villers (the author of an admirable book on the Reform- 
ation, which obtained the prize from the French Academy,) 
afforded her remarkable facilities for perfecting herself in 
the German language. Her first visit had brought her into 


delightful companionship with most of the great minds iti 
North Germany ; but she deemed it necessary to visit the 
South, before she completed a work which she had long 
had in contemplation. In company with her beautiful 
friend, Madame Recamier, she passed the winter of 1807 
at Vienna, receiving the same flattering distinctions from 
the great and the gifted, which had every where attended 
her footsteps. 

She began her celebrated book on Germany in the country 
itself, and surrounded by every facility for giving a correct 
picture of its literature, manners, and national character. 
As we have just stated, she made a second visit, for the 
purpose of more thorough investigation ; and she devoted 
yet two more years to it after her return ; making a period 
of about six years from the time of its commencement to 
its final completion. It is true, this arduous labour was 
not continued uninterruptedly : she had, in the meanwhile, 
made her visit to Italy, and written Corinne ; and while 
she was employed with her great work on Germany, she 
composed and played at Coppet the greater part of the little 
pieces which are now collected in the sixteenth volume of 
her works, under the title of Dramatic Essays. At the 
beginning of the summer of 1810, she finished the three 
volumes of Germany, and went to reside just without forty 
leagues from Paris, in order to superintend its publication. 
She says, " I fixed myself at a farm called Fosse, which a 
generous friend lent me. The house was inhabited by a 
Vendean soldier, who certainly did not keep it in the nicest 
order, but who had a loyal good-nature that made every 
thing easy, and an oiiginality of character that was very 
amusing. Scarcely had we arrived, when an Italian mu- 
sician, whom I had with me to give lessons to my daughter, 
began playing upon the guitar ; and Madame Recamier's 
sweet voice accompanied my daughter upon the harp. The 
peasants collected round the windows, astonished to hear 
tills colony of troubadours, which had come to enliven the 
solitude of their master. Certainly this intimate assem- 
blage, this solitary residence, this agreeable occupation, did 
no harm to any one. We had imagined the idea of sitting 
round a green table after dinner, and writing letters to each 


Other instead of conversing. These varied and multiplied 
tctes-a-tetes amused us so much, that we were impatient to 
get from table, where we were talking, in order to go and 
write to one another. When any strangers came in, we 
could not bear the interruption of our habits ; and our 
penny-post always went its round. The inhabitants of the 
neighbouring town were somewhat astonished at these new 
manners, and looked upon them as pedantic ; though, in 
fact, it was merely a resource against the monotony of 
solitude. One day a gentleman, who had never thought of 
any thing in his life but hunting, came to take my boys 
with him into the woods ; he remained some time seated 
at our active, but silent table. Madame Recamier wrote a 
little note to this jolly sportsman, in order that he might 
not be too much a stranger to the circle in which he was 
placed. He excused himself from receiving it, assuring us 
that he never could read writing by daylight. We after- 
wards laughed not a little at the disappointment our beau- 
tiful friend had met with in her benevolent coquetry ; and 
thought that a billet from her hand would not often have 
met such a fate. Our life passed in this quiet manner ; 
and, if I may judge by myself, none of us found it bur- 

'' 1 wished to go and see the opera of Cinderella repre- 
sented at a paltry provincial theatre at Blois. Coming out 
of the theatre on foot, the people followed me in crowds, 
more from curiosity to see the woman Bonaparte had 
exiled, than from any other motive. This kind of celebrity, 
which I owed to misfortune much more than to talent, 
displeased the Minister of Police, who wrote to the Prefect 
of Loire that I was surrounded by a court. ' Certainly, 
said I to the Prefect, ' it is not power that gives me ^ 

" On the 23d of September, I corrected the last proof of 
Germany ; after six years' labour, I felt great dehght in 
writing the word end. I made a list of one hundred per- 
sons to whom I wished to send copies in different parts of 
Europe." The work passed the censorship prescribed by 
law ; and Madame de Stael, supposing every thing was sa- 
tisfactorily arranged, went with her family to visit her 


friend M. de Montmorency, at his residence about five 
leagues from Blois. This gentleman could claim the oldest 
hereditary rank of any nobleman in France ; being able to 
trace back his pedigree, through a long line of glorious 
ancestry, to the first Baron of Christendom, in the time of 
Charlemagne. Madame de Stael says, ^' He was a pious 
man, only occupied in this world with making himself fit 
for heaven : in his conversation with me he never paid any 
attention to the affairs of the day, but only sought to do 
good to my soul." 

Madame de Stael, after having passed a delightful day 
amid the magnificent forests and historical recollections of 
this ancient castle, retired to rest. In the night, M. de 
Montmorency was awakened by the arrival of Augustus, 
Baron de Stael, who came to inform him that his mother's 
book on Germany was likely to be destroyed, in conse- 
quence of a new edict, which had very much the appear- 
ance of being made on purpose for the occasion. Her son, 
as soon as he had done his errand, left M. de Montmorency 
to soften the blow as much as possible, but to urge his 
mother to return immediately after she had taken break- 
fast ; he himself went back before daylight to see that her 
papers were not seized by the imperial police. Luckily, 
the proof sheets of her valuable work were saved. Some 
further notes on Germany she had with her in a small port- 
able desk in the carriage. As they drew neai* her habit- 
ation she gave the desk to her youngest son, who jumped 
over a wall, and carried it into the house through the gar- 
den. Miss Randall, an English lady, an excellent and 
much beloved friend, came to meet her on the road, to 
console her as much as she could under this great disap- 
pointment. A file of soldiers were sent to her publisher's, 
to destroy every sheet of the ten thousand copies that had 
been printed. She was required to give up her INISS. and 
quit France in twenty-four hours. In her Ten Years* 
Exile, Madame de Stael drily remarks, " It was the cus- 
tom of Bonaparte to order conscripts and women to be in 
readiness to quit France in twenty^four hours." 

She had given up some rough notes of her work to the 
police^ but the spies of government had done their duty so 


well, that they knew there was a copy saved : they could 
tell the exact number of proof-sheets that had been sent to 
her by the publisher, and the exact number she had re- 
turned. She did not pretend to deny the fact ; but she 
told them she had placed the copy out of her hands, and 
that she neither could nor would put it in their power. 

The severity used on this occasion was as unnecessary 
as it was cruel, for her book on Germany contained nothing 
to give offence to the government. Indeed the only fault 
pretended to be found with it was that it was purely literary, 
and contained no mention of the Emperor or his wars in 
that country." 

The Minister of Police gave out, ^^ in corsair terms, that 
if Madame de Stael, on her return to Coppet, should ven- 
ture one foot within forty leagues of Paris she was a good 
prize" AV^lien arrived at Coppet, she received express 
orders not to go more than four leagues from her own 
house ; and this was enforced with so much rigour, that 
having one day accidentally extended her ride a little be- 
yond her limits, the military poUce were sent full speed to 
bring her back. 

If Napoleon felt flattered that all the sovereigns of 
Europe were obliged to combine to keep one man on a bar- 
ren island, Madame de Stael might well consider it no 
small compliment for one woman to be able to inspire with 
fear the mighty troubler of the world's peace.* 

Few in this selfish world would visit one who thus 
'^ carried about with her the contagion of misfortune ;" 
and she was even fearful of writing to her friends, lest she 
should in some way implicate them in her own difficulties. 
In the midst of these perplexities, her true friend, M. de 
Montmorency, came to make her a visit : she told him such 
a proof of friendship would offend the Emperor ; but he 
felt safe in the consciousness of a life entirely secluded from 
any connection with public affairs. The day after his 
arrival, they rode to Fribourg, to see a convent of nuns, of 

* Bonaparte dreaded an epigram, pointed against himself, more than he 
dreaded " infernal machines." When he was told that no woman, however 
talented, could shake the foundation of his power, he replied, " Madame tie 
Stael carries a quiver full of arrows, that would hit a man if he were seated on 
a rainbow." 


the dismal order of La Trappe. She says^ '' We reached 
the convent in the midst of a severe shower, after having 
been obhged to come nearly a mile on foot. I rung the 
bell at the gate of the cloister ; a nun appeared behind the 
lattice opening, through which the portress may speak to 
strangers. ^ What do you want?' said she, in a voice 
without modulation, such as we might suppose that of a 
ghost. — ' I should like to see the interior of the convent.' 
— ' That is impossible,' she replied. — ' But I am very 
wet, and want to dry my dress.' — She immediately touched 
a spring, which opened the door of an outer apartment, in 
which I was allowed to rest myself ; but no living creature 
appeared. In a few minutes, impatient at not being able 
to penetrate the interior of the convent, after my long 
walk, I rung again. The same person re-appeared. I 
asked her if females were never admitted into the convent. 
She answered, ' Only when they had the intention of be- 
coming nuns.' 

" '^But,' said I, 'how can I tell whether I should like 
to remain in your house, if I am not permitted to see it.* 
— '^Oh, that is quite useless,' she replied; '^ I am very 
sure that you have no vocation for our state ; ' and with 
these words she immediately shut her wicket." Madame 
de Stael says she knows not how this nun discovered her 
worldly disposition, unless it were by her quick manner of 
speaking, so different from their own. Those who look at 
Madame de Stael's portrait will not wonder at the |nun's 
penetration : it needs but a single glance at her bright dark 
eye, through which one can look so clearly into the depths 
of an ardent and busy soul, to be convinced that she was 
not made for the solitude and austerities of La Trappe. 

Being disappointed in getting a sight of the nuns, 
Madame de Stael proposed to her son and M. de Mont- 
morency to go to the famous cascade of Bex, where the 
water falls from a very lofty mountain. This being just 
within the French territory, she, without being aware of it, 
infringed upon her sentence of exile. The Prefect blamed 
lier very much, and made a great merit of not informing 
the Emperor that she had been in France. She says she 
might have told him, in the words of La Fontaine's fablcj 


' I grazed of this meadow the hreadth of my tongue.' Bo- 
naparte, finding that Madame de Stael wisely resolved to 
be as happy as she could, determined to make her home 
a solitude, by forbidding all persons to visit her. 

Four days after M. de Montmorency arrived at Coppet, 
he was banished from France; for no other crime than 
having dared to offer the consolation of his society to one, 
who had been his intimate friend for more than twenty 
years, and by whose assistance he had escaped from the 
dangers of the Revolution. 

Madame Recamier, being at that time on her way to the 
waters of Aix in Savoy, sent her friend word that she 
should stop at Coppet. Madame de Stael despatched a 
courier to beseech her not to come ; and she wept bitterly, 
to think that her charming friend was so near her, without 
the possibility of obtaining an interview : but Madame 
Recamier, conscious that she had never meddled with po- 
litics, was resolved not to pass by Coppet without seeing 
her. Instead of the joy that had always welcomed her 
arrival, she was received with a torrent of tears. She stayed 
only one night ; but, as Madame de Stael had feared, the 
sentence of exile smote her also. '^ Thus regardless,' says 
she, ' did the chief of the French people, so renowned for 
their gallantry, show himself toward the most beautiful 
woman in Paris. In one day he smote virtue and distin- 
guished rank in M. de Montmorency, beauty in Madame 
Recamier, and, if I dare say it, the reputation of high 
talents in myself.' 

Not only Frenchmen, but foreigners, who wished to visit 
a writer of so much celebrity, were informed that they must 
not enter her house. The minister of the police said he 
would have a soldier's guard mounted at the bottom of the 
avenue, to arrest whoever attempted to go to Coppet. 

Every courier brought tidings of some friend exiled for 
having dared to keep up a correspondence with her ; even 
lier sons were forbidden to enter France, without a new - 
permission from the police. In this cruel situation, Ma- 
dame de Stael could only weep for those friends who for- 
sook her, and tremble for those who had the courage to 


remain faithful. But nothing could force from her one 
line of flattery to the Emperor. 

Her friends urged her to go beyond the power of her 
enemy; sayings ' If you remain, he will treat you as 
Elizabeth did Mary Stuart ; nineteen years of misery, and 
the catastrophe at last.' And she herself says, ^ Thus to 
carry about with me the contagion of calamity, to be a 
burden on the existence of my children, to fear to write to 
those I love, or even to mention their names, — this is a 
situation from which it is necessary to escape, or die.' 

But she hesitated, and Hngered long before she deter- 
mined to leave the tomb of her father, where she daily 
offered up her prayers for support and consolation. Be- 
sides, a new feeling had at this period gained dominion 
over her. At Geneva, she had become acquainted with Al- 
bert-Jean-Michel de Rocca, a young officer, just returned 
wounded from the war of the Spanish Peninsula, whose 
feeble health, united with the accounts given of his brilliant 
courage, had inspired general interest. Madame de Stael 
visited him, as a stranger who needed the soothing voice of 
kindness and compassion. The first words she uttered made 
him her ardent lover ; he talked of her incessantly. His 
friends represented to him the extreme improbability of 
gaining the affections of such a woman: he replied, ' I will 
love her so devotedly, that she cannot refuse to marry me.' 

M. de Rocca had great elevation of chariicter ; his con- 
versation was highly poetic ; his affections ardent ; and 
his style of writing animated and graceful * : his sentiments 
toward her were of the most romantic and chivalrous kind, 
— unbounded admiration was softened by extreme tender- 
ness ; her desolate heart had lost the guardian and support 
of early life; his state of health excited her pity; and, more 
than all, he offered to realise the dream she had always so 
fondly indulged — a marriage of love. 

A strong and enduring attachment sprung up between 
them, which, in 1811, resulted in a private wedding. 

• In 1809, he published Campagnc de Walcheren et d'Anvers. In 1814, he 
publisliecl a very inttresting book, which was reprinted in 1817,!|called Mtlmoire 
sur la Guerre des Frangais en Espagnc. He left a novel in MS. called Le Mai 
du Paysi I do not know whether it was ever printed. 


The precarious state of M, de Rocca's health was a source 
of sorrow^ which she felt with a keenness proportioned to 
the susceptibility of her character. She watched over him 
with a patient, persevering attention, not a little remark- 
able in one to whom variety and activity were so necessary. 
MTien he was thought to be in danger, her anguish knew 
no bounds ; she compared herself to Marshal Ney, when 
he expected sentence of death from one moment to another. 
In relation to this romantic affair, Madame de Stael was 
guilty of the greatest weakness of her whole life. Governed 
partly by a timidity, which feared '^ the world's dread laugh,' 
and partly by a proud reluctance to relinquish the name 
she had made so glorious throughout Europe, she concealed 
the marriage from all but her children, and her most inti- 
mate friends. On every account, this is to be deeply 
regretted. It makes us blush for an instance of silly vanity 
in one so truly great ; and, what is worse, the embarrassing 
situation in which she thus placed herself, laid her very 
open to the malice of her enemies, and the suspicions of the 
world. Scandalous stories, promulgated by those who either 
misunderstood or wilfully misrepresented her character, 
are even now repeated, though clearly proved to be false 
by those who had the very best opportunities of observing 
her life. 

In her preference for the conversation of gentlemen, 
Madame de Stael had ever been as perfectly undisguised, 
as she was with regard to all her other tastes and opinions ; 
it was, therefore, natural that she should not be a general 
favourite with her own sex, though she found among women 
many of her most zealous and attached friends. 

The intellectual sympathy, which produced so many 
delightful friendships between herelf and distinguished 
men of all countries, was naturally attributed, by ladies of 
inferior gifts, to a source less innocent ; and to this petty 
malice was added strong political animosity, dark, rancor- 
ous, unprincipled, and unforgiving. They even tried to 
make a crime of her residence in England, with Narbonne 
and Talleyrand — as if those days of terror, when every man, 
woman, and child in France slept under the guillotine, was 
b 2 


a. time for even the most scrupulous to adhere to the laws 
of etiquette. 

After her marriage with M. de Rocca, Madame de Stael, 
happy in the retirement of her now cheerful home^ and 
finding consolation in the warm affection of her children, 
indulged hopes that the government would leave her in 
peace. But Bonaparte, who no doubt heard some sort of 
account of the new attachment which had given a fresh 
charm to her existence, caused her to he threatened with 
perpetual imprisonment. 

Unable any longer to endure this system of vexation, she 
asked leave to live in Italy, promising not to publish a 
single line of any kind ; and, with something of becoming 
pride, she reminded the officers of government that it was 
the author of Corinne, who asked no other privilege than to 
live and die in Rome. But notwithstanding the strong 
claim which this beautiful work gave her to the admiration 
and indulgence of her countrymen, that request was refused. 

Napoleon, in one of his conversations at St. Helena, ex- 
cuses his uninterrupted persecution of Madame de Stael, by 
saying that, ' she was an ambitious, intriguing woman, who 
would at any time have thrown her friends into the sea, for 
the sake of exercising her energy in saving them.' 

No doubt there was much truth in this accusation. From 
her earliest childhood, Madame de Stael had breathed the 
atmosphere of politics ; and she hved at an exciting period, 
when an active mind could scarcely forbear taking great 
interest in public affairs.* She was an avowed enemy to 
the imperial government ; but, though she spoke her mind 
freely, we do not hear of her as engaged in any conspiracies, 
or even attempting to form a party. 

At her Swiss retreat, when he was omnipotent in France, 
and she was powerless, it certainly was safe to leave her in 
the peaceful enjoyment of such social pleasures as were 
within her reach. The banishment of M. de Schlegel, M. 
de Montmorency, and Madame Recamier, his refusal to al- 
low Madame de Stael to pass into Italy, and his opposition 

* Bonaparte once at a party placed himself directly before a witty and beau- 
tiful lady, and said very rabruptly, ' Madame, I don't like that women should 
meddle with politics.' — ' You are very right, General,' she replied; 'but in 
a country where women are beheaded,'it is natural they should desire to know 
the reason.' 


to her visiting England^ seem much more hke personal dis- 
like and irritation against one whom he could not compel 
to flatter him, than they do like political precaution : he 
indeed overrated Madame de Stael's importance, if he sup- 
posed she could change the whole policy of government, in 
a country where the national prejudices are so strongly ar- 
rayed against female politicians as they are in England. 

Whatever were Bonaparte's motives and intentions, her 
friends thought it prudent to urge immediate flight ; and 
she herself felt the necessity of it. But month after month 
passed away, during which time she was distracted with 
the most painful perplexity between her fears of a prison, 
and her dread of becoming a fugitive on the face of the 
earth. She says, ' I sometimes consulted all sorts of pre- 
sages, in hopes I should be directed what to do ; at other 
times, I more wisely interrogated my friends and myself on 
the propriety of my departure. I am sure that I put the 
patience of my friends to a severe test by my eternal dis- 
cussions, snd painful irresolution.* 

Two attempts were made to obtain passports for America ; 
but, after compelling her to wait a long time, the govern- 
ment refused to give them. 

At one time she thought of going to Greece, by the route 
of Constantinople ; but she feared to expose her daughter 
to the perils of such a voyage. Her next object was to reach 
England through the circuitous route of Russia and Sweden ; 
but in this great undertaking her heart failed her. Having 
a bold imagination, and a timid character, she conjured up 
the phantoms of ten thousand dangers. She was afraid of 
robbers, of arrest, of prisons, — and more than all, she was 
afraid of being advertised in the newspapers, with all the 
scandalous falsehoods her enemies might think proper to 
invent. She said truly, that she had to contend with an 
* enemy with a million of soldiers, millions of revenue, all 
the prisons of Europe, kings for his jailors, and the press 
for his mouth-piece.' But the time at last came when the 
pressure of circumstances would no longer admit of delay. 
Bonaparte was preparing for his Russian campaign, and 
she must either precede the French troops, or abandon her 
project entirely. 

b 3 


The 15th of May, 1812, was at last fixed upon for de- 
parture ; and all the necessary arrangements were made with 
profound secrecy. When the day arrived, the uncertainty 
she felt seemed to her like a consciousness of being about 
to do something wrong ; she thought she ought to yield 
herself up to such events as Providence ordained, and that 
those pious men were in the right, who always scrupled to 
follow an impulse originating in their own free will. She 
says, ' Agitated by these conflicting feelings, I wandered 
over the park at Coppet : I seated myself in all the places 
where my father had been accustomed to repose himself, 
and contemplate nature ; I looked once more upon the 
beauties of water and verdure, which we had so often ad- 
mired together ; I bade them adieu, and recommended my- 
self to their sweet influences. The monument that encloses 
the ashes of my father and my mother, and in which, if 
God permits, my own will be deposited, was one of the 
principal causes of regret I felt at banishing myself from 
the home of my childhood; but on approaching it, I almost 
always found strength, that seemed to me to come from 
heaven. I passed an hour in prayer before the iron gate 
which enclosed the mortal remains of the noblest of human 
beings ; and my soul was convinced of the necessity of 
departure. I went once more to look at my father's study, 
where his easy chair, his table, and his papers, remained as 
he had left them ; I kissed each venerable mark ; I took 
the cloak, which till then I had ordered to be left upon his 
chair, and carried it away with me, that I might wrap my- 
self up in it, should the messenger of death approach me. 
When these adieus were terminated, I avoided as much as 
I could all other farewells ; I found it less painful to part 
from my friends by letters, which I took care they should 
not receive until several days after my departure. 

' On Saturday, the 23d of May, 1812, I got into my 
carriage, saying that I should return to dinner. I took no 
packet whatever ; I and my daughter had only our fans. 
My son, and M. de Rocca, carried in their pockets enough 
to defray the expenses of several days' journey. On leav- 
ing the chateau, which had become to me like an old and 
valued friend, I nearly fainted. My son took my hand. 


and said, ' Dear mother, remember you are on your way to 
England/ Though nearly two thousand leagues from that 
goal, to which the usual road would have so speedily con- 
ducted me, I felt revived by his words ; every step at least 
brought me something nearer to it. When I had proceeded 
a few leagues, I sent back one of my servants to apprise 
my establishment that I should not return until the next 
day. I continued travelling night and day, as far as a 
farm-house beyond Berne, where I had agreed to meet 
M. de Schlegel, who had kindly offered to accompany me. 
Here I was obliged to leave my eldest son, who for four- 
teen years had been educated by my father, and whose 
features strongly reminded me of him. Again my courage 
abandoned me. I thought of Switzerland, so tranquil and 
so beautiful ; I thought of her inhabitants, who, though 
they had lost political independence, knew how to be free 
by their virtues ; and it seemed to me as if every thing 
told me I ought not to go. I had not yet crossed the bar- 
rier — there was still a possibility of returning. But if I 
went back, I knew another escape would be impossible; 
and I felt a sort of shame at the idea of renewing such 
solemn farewells. I knew not what would have become of 
me, if this uncertainty had lasted much longer. My chil- 
dren decided me ; especially my daughter, who was then 
scarcely fourteen years old. I committed myself to her, as 
if the voice of God had spoken by the mouth of a child. 
My son took his leave ; and when he was out of sight, I 
could say, with Lord Russell, ' The bitterness of death is 

The young Baron de Stael had been obliged to leave his 
mother, in order to attend to the interests of her fortune, 
and to obtain passports to go through Austria, one of whose 
princesses was then the wife of Napoleon. Every thing 
depended on obtaining these passports, under some name 
that would not attract the attention of the poHce ; if they 
were refused, Madame de Stael would be arrested, and the 
rigours of exile made more intolerable than ever. It was 
a decisive step, and one that caused her devoted son the 
most painful anxiety. Finally, he concluded to act, as, he 
judiciously observes, all honest men had better do in their 
b 4 


intercourse with each other, — he threw himself directly 
upon the generosity of the Austrian ambassador; and 
fortunately he had to deal with an honourable man_, who 
made no hesitation in granting his request. 

A few days after_, Madame de StaeFs younger son, with 
her servants, wardrobe, and travelling carriage, set out from 
Coppet, to meet his mother at Vienna. The whole had 
been managed with such secresy, and the police had be- 
come so accustomed to her quiet way of life, that no sus- 
picions were excited, until this second removal took place. 
The gens-d'armes were instantly on the alert ; but Madame 
de Stael had too much the start of them, and had travelled 
too swiftly, to be overtaken. In describing her flight, she 
says, ' The moment I most dreaded, was the passage from 
Bavaria to Austria ; for it was there a courier might pre- 
cede me, and forbid me to pass. But notwithstanding my 
apprehensions, my health had been so much injured by 
anxiety and fatigue, that I could no longer travel all night. 
I, however, flattered myself that I should arrive without 
impediment ; when, just as my fears were vanishing, as we 
approached the boundary line, a man in the inn, at Saltz- 
burg, told M. de Schlegel, that a French courier had been 
to enquire for a carriage coming from Inspruck, with a 
lady and a young girl ; and had left word, that he would 
return to get intelligence of them. I became pale with 
terror ; and M. de Schlegel was very much alarmed ; espe- 
cially as he found, by enquiry, that the courier had been 
waiting for me at the Austrian frontier, and not finding 
me there, had returned to meet me. This was just what I 
had dreaded before my departure, and through the whole 
journey. I determined, on the spur of the moment, to 
leave M. de Schlegel and my daughter at the inn, and to 
go on foot into the streets of the town, to take my chance 
at the first house whose master, or mistress, had a physio- 
gnomy that pleased me. I would remain in this asylum 
a few days ; during this time, M. de Schlegel and my 
daughter might say, that they were going to rejoin me in 
Austria ; aud I would afterward leave Saltzburg, disguised 
as a peasant. Hazardous as this resource appeared, no 
other remained j and I was just preparing for the task, with 


fear and trembling, when who should enter my apartment, 
but this dreaded courier, who was no other than — M. de 
Rocca ! 

*^ He had been obliged to return to Geneva to transact 
some business, and now came to rejoin me. He had dis- 
guised himself as a courier, in order to take advantage of 
the terror which the name inspired, and to obtain horses 
more quickly. He had hurried on to the Austrian frontier, 
to make himself sure that no one had preceded, or an- 
nounced me; he had returned to assure me that I had 
nothing to fear, and to get upon the box of my carriage 
until we had passed that dreaded frontier, which seemed to 
me the last of my dangers. In this manner were my fears 
changed to gratitude, joy, and confidence.' 

At Vienna, Madame de Stael was obliged to wait some 
time for a Russian passport. The first ten days were spent 
very pleasantly, and her friends there assured her that she 
might rest in perfect security. At the end of that time, 
the Austrian police probably received directions concerning 
her from Napoleon ; for they placed a guard at the gate of 
her house, and, whether she walked or rode, she was fol- 
lowed by spies. 

She was at this time in a state of great uneasiness ; for 
unless her Russian passport came speedily, the progress of 
the war would prevent her from passing into that country ; 
and she dared not stay in Vienna a day after the French 
ambassador (who was then at Dresden) had returned. 
Again she thought of Constantinople. She tried to obtain 
two passports to leave Austria, either by Hungary or Gal- 
licia, so that she might decide in favour of going to Peters- 
burg or Constantinople according to circumstances. She 
was told she might have her choice of passports, but that 
they could not enable her to go by two different frontiers 
without authority from the Committee of States. She says, 
' Europe seemed to her like one great net, in which travel- 
lers got entangled at every step.* 

She departed for Gallicia without her Russian passport ; 
a friend having promised to travel night and day to bring 
it to her, as soon as it arrived. At every step of her 
journey she encountered fresh difficulties from the police. 


all of which it would be tedious to relate. Placards were 
put up in all the towns to keep a strict watch upon her as 
she passed through : this was the distinction the Austrians 
conferred upon a woman^ who has done more than any 
other mortal to give foreigners a respect for German lite- 
rature, and German cliaracter. 

In passing through Poland, Madame de Stael wished to 
rest a day or two at Lanzut, at the castle of the Pohsh 
Prince and Princess Lubomirska, with v/hom she had 
been well acquainted in Geneva, and during her visit to 
Vienna. The captain of the police, jealous that she in- 
tended to excite the Poles to insurrection, sent a detach- 
ment to escort her into Lanzut, to follow her into the 
castle, and not leave her until she quitted it. Accordingly 
the officer stationed himself at the supper-table of the 
Prince, and in the evening took occasion to observe to her 
son that he had orders to pass the night in her apartment, 
to prevent her holding communication with any one ; but 
that, out of respect to her, he should not do it. ' You 
may as well say that you will not do it, out of respect to 
yourself/ replied the young man : ^ for if you dare to set 
foot within my mother's apartment, I will assuredly throw 
you out of the window/ 

The escort of the police was particularly painful to 
Madame de Stael at this point of her journey. A descrip- 
tion of M. de Rocca had been sent along the road, with 
orders to arrest him as a French officer ; although he had 
resigned his commission, and was disabled by his wound 
from doing military service. Had he been arrested, the 
forfeiture of his life would have been the consequence. 
He had therefore been obliged to separate from his wife, 
at a time when he felt most anxious to protect her ; and to 
travel alone under a borrowed name. It had been ar- 
ranged that they should meet at Lanzut, from which place 
they hoped to be able to pass safely into Russia. Having 
arrived ^th ere before her, and not in the least suspecting 
that she would be guarded by the police, he eagerly came 
out to meet her, full of joy and confidence. The danger 
to which he thus unconsciously exposed himself, made 
Madame de Stael pale with agony. She had scarcely time 
to give him an earnest signal to turn back. Had it not 


been for the generous presence of mind of a Polish gentle- 
man^ M. de Rocca would have been recognised and arrested. 

The fugitive experienced the greatest friendship and 
hospitality from the Prince and Princess Lubomirska ; but 
notwithstanding their urgent entreaties, she would not con- 
sent to encumber their house with such attendants as chose 
to follow her. After one night's rest, she departed for 
Russia, which she entered on the 14th of July. As she 
passed the boundary line, she made a solemn oath never 
again to set foot in a country subjected in any degree to 
the Emperor Napoleon ; though she says she felt some sad 
misgivings that the oath would never allow her to revisit 
her own beautiful and beloved France. 

Madame de Stael staid but a brief space in Moscow ; 
the flames and the French army followed close upon her 

At Petersburg she had several interviews with the Em- 
peror Alexander, whose affairs were then at a most alarm- 
ing crisis.* She remarks of Russia, ' The country ap- 
peared to me like an image of infinite space, and as if it 
would require an eternity to traverse it. The Sclavonian 
language is singularly echoing ; there is something metallic 
about it ; you would imagine you heard a bell striking, 
when the Russians pronounce certain letters of their 

The nobility of Petersburg vied with each other in the 
attentions bestowed on Madame de Stael. At a dinner 
given in honour of her arrival, the following toast was 
proposed : ' Success to the arms of Russia against France.* 
The exile dearly loved her country, and her heart could 
not respond to the sentiment: ' Not against France !' she 
exclaimed ; ' but against him who oppresses France.' 
The toast, thus changed, was repeated with great applause. 

Although Madame de Stael found much in Russia to 
interest her, and was every where received with distin- 
guished regard, she did not feel in perfect security ; she 
could not look on the magnificent edifices of that splendid 
Capital, without dismal forebodings that he, whose power 

• Tn a conversation concerning the structure of governments, Madame de 
Stael said to the Emperor, ♦ Sire, you are yourself a constitution for your 
country.' ' Then, madam, I am but a lucky accident,* was his wise reply to 
her delicate and comprehensive flattery. 


had overshadowed all the fair dwellings of Europe^, would 
come to darken them also. 

In September, she passed through Finland into Sweden. 
In Stockholm she published a work against suicide, written 
before her flight from Coppet. The object of this treatise 
is to show that the natural and proper effect of affliction is 
to elevate and purify the soul, instead of driving it to de- 
spair. She is said to have been induced to make this pub- 
lication by the fear that she had, in some of her former 
writings, evinced too much admiration for this guilty form 
of courage. 

In Sweden, as in Russia, Madame de Stael was received 
with very marked respect. It was generally supposed that 
she exerted a powerful influence over Bernadotte, to induce 
him to resist the encroachments of Napoleon's ambition. 
If this be the case, she may be said to have fairly check- 
mated the Emperor with a king of his own making. 
Though Bernadotte had great respect for her opinions, she 
is said not to have been'a favourite with him : he was him- 
self fond of making eloquent speeches, and her conversation 
threw him into the shade, 

Madame de Stael passed the winter of 1812 on the 
shores of the Baltic ; and in tjie spring she sailed for Eng- 
land, where she arrived in June, 1813. Although her 
dramatic style of manners, and the energy of her convers- 
ation, formed a striking contrast to the national reserve of 
the English, she was received with enthusiastic admiration. 
Her genius, her fame, her escape from Bonaparte, and her 
intimate knowledge of the French Revolution, all combined 
to produce a prodigious sensation. ' In the immense 
crowds that collected to see her at the Marquis of Lans- 
downe's, and in the houses of the other principal nobility of 
London, the eagerness of curiosity broke through all restraint; 
the first ladies in the kingdom stood on chairs and tables, 
to catch a glimpse of her dark and brilliant physiognomy.* 

Madame de Stael has left some admirable descriptions of 
English society, and of the impressions made upon her 
mind when she first entered that powerful country. But 
the principal object of her visit was not to observe the in- 
tellectual wealth or moral grandeur of England. Through 
all her perils and wanderings she had saved a copy of 


her condemned book on Germany, and had brought it 
triumphantly to London ; where it was published, in Oc- 
tober, 1813. 

' In this, which is perhaps her greatest work, Madame 
de Stael has endeavoured to give a bold, general, and philo- 
sophical view of the whole intellectual condition of the 
German people, among whom she had made what was in 
some sort a voyage of discovery ; for the highly original 
literature of that country was then little known to the rest 
of Europe.' It was received with great applause in 
England, and afterward in France, where a change of go- 
vernment admitted of its being published the ensuing 
year. Sir James Mackintosh immediately wrote a review 
of it, in which he says, ' The voice of Europe had 
already applauded the genius of a national painter in the 
author of ' Corinna.' In her ' Germany,' she throws off the 
aid of fiction ; she delineates a less poetical character, and 
a country more interesting by anticipation than by recollec- 
tion. But it is not the less certain that it is the most 
vigorous effort of her genius, and probably the most 
elaborate and masculine production of the faculties of 

When Madame de Stael made her visit to England, Lord 
Byron was in the first lustre of his fame. At first, the 
rival lions seem to have been disposed to growl at each 
other; but in time they grew to be on the best possible 
terms. The following is the noble poet's eloquent tribute 
to her genius : — 

' Corinna is no more ; and with her should expire the 
fear, the flattery, and the envy, which threw too dazzHng 
or too dark a cloud round the march of genius, and forbade 
the steady gaze of disinterested criticism. We have her 
picture embellished or distorted, as friendship or detraction 
has held the pencil : the impartial portrait was hardly to be 
expected from a contemporary. The immediate voice of 
her survivors will, it is probable, be far from affording a 
just estimate of her singular capacity. The gallantry, the 
love of wonder, and the hope of associated fame, which 
blunted the edge of censure, must cease to exist. The dead 
have no sex ; they can surprise by no new miracles ; they 
can confer no privilege : Corinna has ceased to be a woman 


— she is only an author ; and it may he foreseen that many 
will repay themselves for former complaisance, by a severity 
to which the extravagance of previous praises may perhaps 
give the colour of truth. The latest posterity — for to the 
latest posterity they will assuredly descend — will have to 
pronounce upon her various productions ; and the longer 
the vista through which they are seen, the more accurately 
minute will be the object, -the more certain the justice, of 
the decision. She will enter into that existence in which 
the great writers of all ages and nations are, as it were, 
associated in a world of their own, and, from that superior 
sphere, shed their eternal influence for the control and con- 
solation of mankind. But the individual will gradually dis- 
appear as the author is more distinctly seen : some one, 
therefore, of all those whom the charms of involuntary wit, 
and of easy hospitality, attracted within the friendly circles 
of Coppet, should rescue from obHvion those virtues which, 
although they are said to love the shade, are, in fact, more 
frequently chilled than excited by the domestic cares of 
private life. Some one should be found to portray the 
unaffected graces with which she adorned those dearer 
relationships, the performance of whose duties is rather dis- 
covered amongst the interior secrets, than seen in the out- 
ward management, of family intercourse; and which, 
indeed, it requires the delicacy of genuine affection to 
qualify for the eye of an indifferent spectator. Some one 
should be found, not to celebrate, but to describe, the 
amiable mistress of an open mansion, the centre of a society, 
ever varied, and always pleased, the creator of which, di- 
vested of the ambition and the arts of public rivalry, shone 
forth only to give fresh animation to those around her. 
The mother tenderly affectionate and tenderly beloved, — 
the friend unboundedly generous, but still esteemed, — the 
charitable patroness of all distress, cannot be forgotten by 
those whom she cherished, afid protected, and fed. Her 
loss will be mourned the most where she was known the 
best; and, to the sorrows of very many friends, and more 
dependents, may be offered the disinterested regret of a 
stranger, who, amidst the sublimer scenes of the Leman 
Lake, received his chief satisfaction from contemplating the 
engaging qualities of the incomparable Corinna.' 


The respect and admiration with which Madame de 
Stael was received by the best society in England was 
rather increased than diminished during her residence 
there. She had now been in most of the capitals of 
Europe, and in all of them had received a degree of homage 
never before paid to any woman who was not a queen. 
But all these flattering distinctions could not wean her 
affections from her beloved Paris. In the midst of the 
most dazzling triumphs of her genius, her heart turned 
fondly toward France, and she was watching with in- 
tense anxiety the progress of those great political move- 
ments, which afterward restored her to her country. Im- 
mediately after the entrance of the allied army into Paris, 
and the consequent abdication of Bonaparte, Madame de 
Stael returned to her native land. Notwithstanding the 
pain it gave to see her country filled with foreign troops, 
she felt the joy of an exile restored to her home. She im- 
mediately resumed her high place in society ; and the ac- 
cumulation of fame she brought with her threw additional 
brilliancy around a name which had so long been illustrious. 
Louis XVIII. took great delight in her conversation. He 
caused to be paid from the royal treasury the two millions 
of francs that M. Necker had loaned to Louis XVI. 

A circumstance which occurred at this period of her life 
is remarkably interesting. A project was on foot to assas- 
sinate Napoleon ; and men were sent to Elba for that pur- 
pose. Madame de Stael, from her well known dislike to 
the Emperor, and her acquaintance with political men of 
all parties, was the first one to whom the secret was con^ 
fided. Accompanied by Talma, she immediately sought an 
interview with Joseph Bonaparte, informed him of his 
brother's danger, and even proposed to go to Elba in person. 
A patriotic friend, whose name is not yet revealed to the 
public, undertook the hazardous mission — he arrived in 
time, so that the two first who landed were arrested, and 
Bonaparte was saved. 

Madame de Stael passed the winters of 1814 and 1815 
in Paris ; receiving the universal homage of the great men 
then collected there from all parts of the world. But the 
shadow of her old and inveterate enemy was suddenly 
thrown across this bright spot in her existence. On the 


6th of March, 1815, Bonaparte suddenly landed in France. 
When Madame de Stael heard the tidings, she says, it 
seemed as if the earth had yawned under her feet. She 
had sufficient knowledge of the French people to conjecture 
what reception Napoleon would meet ; and having made a 
farewell visit to the king, with a heavy heart she returned 
to Coppet. 

Bonaparte, anxious to rebuild the power his own mad- 
ness had overthrown, was particularly desirous to gain the 
confidence of the friends of rational liberty ; and among 
these his former persecution had shown of what consequence 
he considered Madame de Stael. He sent his brother Jo- 
seph with a request that she would come to Paris, and 
give him her advice about framing a constitutional govern- 
ment. With a consistency very rare in those days of 
rapid political changes, she replied, * Tell the Emperor 
that for twelve years he has done without me or a consti- 
tution ; and I believe that he has as little regard for the 
one as he has for the other.' 

Bonaparte gave O'Meara a very different account. He 
says, *^ I was obliged to banish Madame de Stael from 
court.* At Geneva she became very intimate with my 
brother Joseph, whom she gained by her conversation and 
writings. When I returned from Elba, she sent her son 
to ask payment of two millions, which her father had lent 
out of his private property to Louis XVI.,, and to offer her 
services, provided I complied with her request. I refused 
to see him ; thinking I could not grant what he wished 
without ill-treating others in a similar predicament. How- 
ever, Joseph would not be refused, and brought him in ; 
the attendants not liking to deny my brother. I received 
him politely, and told him I was very sorry I could not 
comply with his request, as it was contrary to the laws. 
Madame de Stael then wrote a long letter to Fouch^, 
stating her claims, in which she said she wanted the 
money to portion her daughter in marriage to the Due de 
Broglie, promising that if I complied with her request, I 
might command her and hers ; that she would he black and 
white for me. Fouche urged me to comply, saying, that 

* A gentle and con^prehensive description of his system of petty persecutions ! 


at SO critical a time she might be of considerable service. 
I answered that I would make no bargains." 

It is impossible that the above statement should be true. 
In the first place, we have more reason to place confidence 
in the veracity of the open-hearted Madame de Stael than 
we have in the word of Napoleon, who seldom used lan- 
guage for any other purpose than to conceal his thoughts ; 
secondly, in the beginning of his reign he did offer to pay 
those very two millions, if she would favour his govern- 
ment, and at the very time of which O'Meara speaks, he 
again offered to do it ; thirdly, it is notorious, that after his 
return from Elba, he was extremely anxious to conciliate 
his enemies ; and lastly, the history of his whole intriguing 
life makes us laugh at the pretence that he was incapable 
of making bargains. 

At the close of the memorable Hundred Days, Bona- 
parte was a second time compelled to abdicate ; and Ma- 
dame de Stael would have immediately returned to Paris, 
had she not felt such a painful sense of degradation in see- 
ing the throne of France supported by a standing army of 
foreign troops ; her national pride could not brook the dis- 
grace of witnessing her country in the leading-strings of 
the Allied Powers ; France, thus situated, was in her eyes 
no longer " the great nation." 

She remained at Coppet during the summer of 1815 ; 
but having fresh cause of alarm for the health of her hus- 
band, who had never recovered from the effects of his 
wound, she revisited Italy, where they passed the winter. 
In the spring of 181 6, they returned to Coppet. 

Lord Byron, who had then left England, in high in- 
dignation at the odium he had brought upon himself, passed 
through Switzerland, during this year, in his way to Italy. 
Notwithstanding his former want of cordiality towards 
Madame de Stael, and his personal unpopularity at this 
period, he was received by her with a kindness and hospi- 
tality he had not hoped to meet, and which affected him 
deeply. With her usual frankness, she blamed him for his 
conduct to Lady Byron ; and by her persuasive eloquence 
prevailed upon him to write to a friend in England, ex- 
pressing a wish to be reconciled to his wife. In the letters 
he wrote, during the few summer months he staid in 


Switzerland, he often speaks of Coppet and its inhabitants. 
He says, " Madame de Stael wishes to see the Antiquary, 
and I am going to take it to her to-morrow. She has made 
Coppet as agreeable to me as society and talent can make 
any place on earth. Bonstetten is there a good deal. He 
is a fine, lively old man, and much esteemed by his com- 
patriots. All there are well, excepting Rocca, who, I am 
sorry to say, looks in a very bad state of health. Schlegel is 
-in high force, and Madame de Stael is as brilliant as ever.'* 
Of the Duchess de Broglie, Byron spoke in very high 
terms ; and in noticing her attachment to her husband, 
he remarked, that " Nothing was more pleasing than to see 
the development of the domestic affections in a very young 
woman." What a pity that virtue was not to him some- 
thing more than a mere abstract idea of poetic beauty ! 

When it became evident that the AlHed Powers did not 
mean to dictate the measures of the French government, 
Madame de Stael was again strongly tempted by the al- 
lurements of Paris. She returned once more to become 
the leading- star in the most brilliant society in the world. 
'* Every evening her saloon was crowded with all that was 
distinguished and powerful, not in France only, but in all 
Europe, which was then represented in Paris, by a re- 
markable number of its most extraordinary men. Madame 
de Stael had, to a degree perhaps never possessed by any 
other person, the rare talent of uniting ' around her the 
most distinguished individuals of all the opposite parties, 
literary and political, and making them establish relations 
among themselves_, which they could not afterward entirely 
•shake off. There might be found Wellington and La- 
fayette, Chateaubriand, Talleyrand, and Prince Laval; 
Humboldt and Blucher, from Berlin ; Constant and Sis- 
mondi,from Switzerland; the two Schlegels, from Hanover; 
Canova, from Italy ; the beautiful Madame Recamier, and 
the admirable Duchess de Duras ; and from England, such 
a multitude, that it seemed like a general emigration of 
British talent and rank." 

The winter months at the close of 1816, and the begin- 
ning of 1817j were passed by Madame de Stael in Paris. 
This was the most splendid scene in the gorgeous drama 
of her life — and it was the last. " The great exertions 


she made, evening after evening, in the important political 
discussions that were carried on in her saloon, — the labours 
of the morning in writing almost continually something 
suited to the wants of the moment, for the Mercury, and 
other periodicals, — while at the same time, the serious 
labour of her great work on the French Revolution was 
still pressing on her, — all these together were too much 
for her strength." Contrary to the advice of the physicians^ 
she persisted in using opium, to which she had for some 
time resorted to stimulate her exhausted frame ; but nature 
was worn out, and no artificial means could restore its 
vigour. A violent fever, obviously the effect of the excite- 
ment under which she had so long lived, seized her in 
February. By the use of excessively violent means, it was 
thrown off; but, though the disease was gone, her con- 
stitution was broken up. Life passed at first insensibly 
from the extremities, and then no less slowly retired from 
the more vital organs. In general, she suffered little, and 
her faculties remained in unclouded brightness to the last. 
The interest excited by her situation proved the affection 
she had inspired, and of what consequence her life was 
accounted to her country. Every day some of the royal 
family were anxiously enquiring at the door, and every day 
the Duke of Wellington came in person to ask if there was 
no hope. Her most intimate friends (who have been often 
mentioned in the course of this memoir) were admitted 
into her sick chamber. She conversed upon all the subjects 
that were introduced, and took an interest in them all. If 
her conversation at this period had less than her usual 
animation, it is said to have had more of richness and 
depth. The deadly paleness of her features formed a 
touching contrast with the dazzling intelligence, which 
never deserted her expressive countenance. Her friends 
placed a double value on every remark she uttered, and 
treasured it in their inmost hearts as one of the last efforts 
of her wonderful mind. Some of them indulged the hope 
that she might recover ; but she knew from the first that 
the work of death was begun. At one time, owing to a 
high nervous excitement produced by the progress of her 
disease, the thought of dissolution was terrible to her. — She 
mourned over the talents that had roade her life so brilliant ; 



over the rank and influence, that she could so usefully ex- 
ercise ; over her children, whose success in the world was 
just then beginning to gratify all her affection and pride ; 
until those who listened to her trembled at the heart- 
rending energy which her excited imagination gave to her 
expressions. But this passed away with the disease that 
produced it, and calmer feelings followed. She spoke of 
her death with composure and resignation to all except her 
daughter. " My father is waiting for me in the other 
world," said she, "^ and I shall soon go to him." By a 
great effort she wrote, with her palsied hand, a few affec- 
tionate words of farewell to her most intimate friends. Two 
days before her death, she read Lord Byron's Manfred, 
then just published ; and expressed as clear and distinct an 
opinion on its poetry as she would have done at any moment 
of her life. The morning before she died, she pointed to 
these two beautiful passages, and said they expressed all 
she then felt : — 

« And the clankless chain hath bound thee ; 
O'er tliy heart and brain together 
Hath the word been passed — now wither ! 


" Oh that I were 
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound, 
A living voice, a breathing harmony, 
A bodiless enjoyment-. — born and dying 
With the blest tone which made me ! *" 

'^ Late that night, as her daughter was kneeling by her 
bedside, she tried to speak to her of her approaching dis- 
solution ; but the last agony of a mother's heart came over 
her, and she could not : she asked her to go into the next 
room, and then she became calm again. Miss Randall, 
her long-known and affectionate friend, whom she had al- 
ways wished to have with her at the last moment, remained 
alone with her until morning. Once, as she revived from 
a temporary state of insensibility, she said, ' I believe I 
can realize what it is to pass from life to death : our ideas 
are confused, and we do not suffer intensely. I am sure 
the goodness of God will render the transition easy.* Her 
hopes were not disappointed. At about two o'clock she 
fell asleep; and so tranquil was this last slumber^ that 


it was only when at four o'clock she ceased to breathe, 
without any movement, or change of feature, that it became 
too certain she would wake no more. She died on Monday, 
July 14th, 1817, at the age of fifty-one." Her remains 
were carried to Coppet, and placed, as she had desired, by 
the side of her father. 

The following account of the domestic manners at Coppet, 
is extracted from the Memoirs of Madame Junot (Duchess 
d'Abrantes) : — 

*' I have in my possession an interesting narrative of 
M. Necker's mode of living at Coppet during his exile. It 
was presented to me by the writer, M. Frederic de Cha- 
teauvieux, an intimate friend of Madame de Stael, and the 
spirited author of the ' Lettres de St. James.' The interest 
which is attached to every thing connected with the in- 
habitants of Coppet, induces me to present to the reader the 
following pages from Frederic de Chateauvieux's narrative : 

" ^ The tall majestic figure of Madame Necker intervened 
like a marble statue between M. Necker and his daughter. 
Thus, as long as Madame Necker lived, there was an ap- 
pearance of restraint and want of harmony in the family 
circle. On the death of his wife, M. Necker urged his 
daughter to come and reside at Coppet; and he devoted 
all his attention — I had almost said all his gallantry — to 
render his home agreeable to Madame de Stael. 

" ' The interior of Coppet presented an aspect of dulness 
and formality. It had seldom any appearance of bustle or 
gaiety. To me its great attraction consisted in the pro- 
digious union of talent caused by the presence of M. Necker» 
Madame de Stael, and M. Benjamin Constant, who then 
lived at Coppet. 

" ^ The inmates assembled together at breakfast, which 
always consisted of coffee, in Madame de Stael's chamber. 
This meal was often prolonged for two hours ; for we had 
no sooner sat down than Madame de Stael would start a 
Question, more frequently relating to literature or philosophy 
than politics. This she did out of delicacy to the feelings 
of her father, whose career in the field of politics had 
come to so unfortunate a close. But, let the subject be 
what it might, it was sure to be discussed with incon- 
ceivable fertility of imagination and depth of thought. la 


short, it was an intellectual banquet, at which all that the 
human mind could conceive or create was abundantly 
served up. In these literary and philosophical disputes, 
Madame de Stael had a decided superiority over her father 
in quickness of perception, readiness of expression, and 
eloquence. But whenever she was about to seize the palm 
of victory, she always appeared restrained by a feeling of 
filial respect. As if fearful of the success she had ob- 
tained, she would with admirable dexterity and grace com- 
mit herself in an error, for the purpose of resigning to her 
antagonist the glory of the victory. But that antagonist 
was her father ; and he was the only person to whom she 
ever conceded such an advantage. 

" ' After breakfast, the party separated until dinner, 
which was constantly accompanied by disputes between M. 
Necker and several deaf and ill-tempered maitres-d'hotel, 
the remnants of a system which M. Necker himself had 
overthrown, and who in their embroidered coats had fol- 
lowed his fortunes to Coppet. The afternoon was devoted 
to study until seven o'clock, when whist was commenced. 
This was always a stormy game : M. Necker and his 
daughter invariably quarrelled, lost their tempers, and left 
the table with the determination of never again playing 
together. But in spite of this the game was daily resumed. 
The rest of the evening was passed in agreeable conversation. 

" ' With the exception of a few excursions, Madame de 
Stael in this manner spent eight years of her life ; alter- 
nately devoting herself to the society of her father and the 
education of her children. At this period, too, she wrote 
what may be termed her works of the second-rate class ; 
viz. On the Influence of the Passions ; On Literature ; and 
lastly, Delphine. 

^' ' After the death of M. Necker, in 1804, Madame de 
Stael, finding herself relieved from all restraint, and the 
mistress of a splendid fortune, aspired to figure upon the 
stage of politics. To this sbe was urged by a vivid recol- 
lection of the commencement of the revolution, the date of 
her first acquaintance with the world, and her early suc- 
cess. She was enticed to enter this arena, by the desire of 
exercising the power which she regarded as an attribute of 
her superior genius. 


" ' But this love of authority took possession of her at a 
fatal moment ; viz. at a time when all the efforts of an 
herculean government were exerted to free society from the 
action of individual influence^ and to concentrate all power 
in itself. Thus a contest ensued^ between the individual 
influence which Madame de Stael wished to exercise, and 
the resistance which was opposed by the government of 
the empire. This contest lasted eight years, at the ex- 
piration of which time, Madame de Stael withdrew from 
this conflict between a stupendous moral power and a phy- 
sical power stronger than had ever before existed. 

*' ' During this period Madame, de Stael published Co- 
rinne, and her great work on Germany ; the materials for 
the latter she collected in journeys undertaken to escape 
from the imperial authority, and to sympathise with the vic- 
tims of that authority who had been wounded, but permitted 
to survive. The idea of this work was suggested by the 
labours she undertook, and executed conjointly with M. 
Schlegel, to explore the literary world of Germany ; a world 
which was then new', and entirely unacquainted with the 
ideas, traditions, and even the rules which were the pride 
of French literature. 

" ' Madame de Stael felt the necessity of emancipating 
herself from these ideas, traditions, and rules ; she was en- 
dowed with a genuine poetic feeling, a horror of bad taste, 
and a power of charming by the harmony of language, 
which gave rise to frequent controversies between her and 
M. Schlegel, who, as it may be observed from his lectures, 
did not allow himself to be fascinated by Racine's har- 
monious versification. It was only necessary for Madame 
de Stael to recite some passages of Racine, to stir up one 
of those disputes whence emanated a thousand ideas, as 
novel as profound, on the mysteries of our moral nature. 

" ' One of Madame de Stael's favourite amusements, at 
this time, consisted in dramatic representation. Her fine 
voice and energetic gestures gave her a great advantage in 
the performance of tragedy. In these representations she 
was assisted Jjy Count Elzear de Sabran, M. Charles de 
Labedoyere and Don Pedro de Souza, now Marquis de 
Palmella. Her style of acting belonged to the school 
which had preceded Talma ; for, in spite of her admiratioa 


of that great tragedian, she was not his disciple. Madame 
de Stael attached no great value to her talent for dramatic 
performance. It is curious that she excelled in the repre- 
sentation of soubrettes. 

" ^ The Count de Sabran wrote pieces for these private 
theatricals, and Madame de Stael herself wrote " Agar, la 
Sunamite" and two other pieces, which were subsequently 
printed and much admired. At these performances at 
Coppet, the audience consisted of Madame de Stael's ac- 
quaintance in the neighbourhood, and very frequently, 
friends who came from a considerable distance to see her. 
Among these friends, I must mention Prince William of 
Prussia, Baron de Voght, Bonstettin, the poet Verner, 
M. de Montmorency (who every year made a pilgrimage 
to the Val-Sainte and Coppet), and Madame de Recamier, 
who joined to exquisite beauty a fund of talent and amia- 
bility which were duly appreciated by Madame de Stael. 

'' ' As long as Madame de Stael could assemble around 
her this circle of friends, existence was endurable to her, 
even in exile. But when, beneath her hospitable roof, and 
on one and the same day, sentence of exile was pronounced 
upon Madame de Recamier and M. de Montmorency, the 
distress of her feelings overcame her fortitude. Her ex- 
treme horror of solitude, and the mortification of believing 
herself the immediate cause of the condemnation of her 
friends, determined her to leave France uhtil happier days, 
and to seek elsewhere the liberty which France denied her.' 

" As I have already mentioned, Madame de Stael returned 
to Paris after the death of her father, M. Necker. Her 
numerous friends wished to make this return a sort of 
triumph. This was ill-judged. The Emperor, who en- 
tertained towards her a very unjust and groundless dislike, 
took offence at the interest which was excited by the 
arrival of a woman. He forgot that that woman was 
endowed with extraordinary genius ; that she scanned with 
an eagle glance all that came under her observation ; that 
in short, though a woman, she was one of the greatest 
political economists of the day. Perhaps, however, he did 
not forget all this, and it might possibly be fear which in- 
duced him to banish her." 

€ O R I N N E ; 






In the year 1794, Oswald^ LordNevil, a Scotch nohleman, 
left Edinburgh to pass the winter in Italy.* He possessed 
a noble and handsome person, a fine mind, a great name, 
an independent fortune ; but his health was impaired; and 
the physicians, fearing that his lungs were affected, pre- 
scribed the air of the south. He followed their advice, 
though with little interest in his own recovery, hoping, at 
least, to find some amusement in the varied objects he 
was about to behold. That heaviest of all afflictions, the 
loss of a father, was the cause of his malady. The re- 
morse inspired by scrupulous delicacy stiU more embittered 
his regret, and haunted his imagination. Such sufferings 
we readily convince ourselves that we deserve, for violent 
griefs extend their influence even over the realms of con- 
science. At five-and-twenty he was tired of life ; he 
judged the future by the past, and no longer relished the 
illusions of the heart. No one could be more devoted to 
the service of his friends ; yet not even the good he effected 
gave him one sensation of pleasure. He constantly sacri- 

* Neither of these names are Scotch. We are not informed whether the 
hero's Christian natne is Oswald, or Nevil his family one, as well as his title. 
He signs the former to his letters, xuid constantly c^lls himself an Englishman. 
— 'I'ranslator. 



ficed his tastes to those of others; but this generosity alone, 
far from proving a total forgetfulness of self, may often be 
attributed to a degree of melancholy, which renders a man 
careless of his own doom. The indifferent considered 
this mood extremely graceful ; but those who loved him 
felt that he employed himself for the happiness of others, 
hke a man who hoped for none ; and they almost repined 
at receiving felicity from one on whom they could never 
bestow it. His natural disposition was versatile, sensitive, 
and impassioned; uniting all the qualities which could 
excite himself or others ; but misfortune and repentance 
had rendered him timid, and he thought to disarm, by ex- 
acting nothing from fate. He trusted to find, in a firm 
adherence to his duties, and a renouncement of all enjoy- 
ments, a security against the sorrows which had distracted 
him. Nothing in the world seemed worth the risk of 
these pangs ; but while we are still capable of feeling them, 
to what kind of life can we fly for shelter ? 

Lord Nevil flattered himself that he should quit Scot- 
land without regret, as he had remained there without 
pleasure ; but the dangerous dreams of imaginative minds are 
not thus fulfilled ; he was sensible of the ties which bound 
him to the scene of his miseries, the home of his father. 
There were rooms he could not approach without a shud- 
der, and yet, when he had resolved to fly them, he felt 
more alone than ever. A barren dearth seized on his 
heart ; he could no longer weep ; no more recall those little 
local associations which had so deeply melted him; his 
recollections had less of life ; they belonged not to the 
things that surrounded him. He did not think the less of 
those he mourned, but it became more difficult to conjure 
back their presence. Sometimes, too, he reproached him- 
self for abandoning the place where his father had dwelt. 
" Who knows," would he sigh, '' if the shades of the 
dead follow the objects of tlieir affection ? They may not 
be permitted to wander beyond the spots where their ashes 
repose ! Perhaps, at this moment, is my father deploring 
mine absence, powerless to recall me. Alas ! may not a 
host of wild events have persuaded him that I have be- 


trayed his tenderness, turned rebel to my country, to his 
will, and all that is sacred on earth ? " 

These remembrances occasioned him such insupportable 
despair, that, far from daring to confide them in any one, 
he dreaded to sound their depths himself; so easy is it, 
out of our own reflections, to create irreparable evils ! 

It costs added pain to leave one's country, when 
one must cross the sea. There is such solemnity in a 
pilgrimage, the first steps of which are on the ocean. It 
seems as if a gulf were opening behind you, and your return 
becoming impossible ; besides, the sight of the main always 
profoundly impresses us, as the image of that infinitude 
which perpetually attracts the soul, and in which thought 
ever feels herself lost. Oswald, leaning near the helm, his 
eyes fixed on the waves, appeared perfectly calm. Pride 
and diffidence generally prevented his betraying his emo- 
tions even before his friends ; but sad feelings struggled 
within. He thought on the time when that spectacle 
animated his youth with a desire to buffet the tides, and 
measure hia strength with theirs. 

" Why," he bitterly mused, " why thus constantly 
yield to meditation ? There is such rapture in active life ! 
in those violent exercises that make us feel the energy of 
existence ! then death itself may appear glorious ; at least 
it is sudden, and not preceded by decay ; but that death 
which finds us without being bravely sought, — that gloomy 
death which steals from you, in a night, all you held dear, 
which mocks your regrets, repulses your embrace, and 
pitilessly opposes to your desire the eternal laws of time 
and nature, — that death inspires a kind of contempt for 
human destiny, for the pawerlessness of grief, and all the 
vain efforts that wreck themselves against necessity." 

Such were the torturing sentiments which characterised 
the wretchedness of his state. The vivacity of youth was 
united with the thoughts of another age ; such as might 
well have occupied the mind of his father in his last hours; 
but Oswald tinted the melancholy contemplations of age 
with the ardour of five-and-twenty. He was weary of 
every thing ; yet, nevertheless, lamented his lost conteint^ 
as if its visions still lingered. 

n 9. 


This inconsistency, entirely at variance with the will of 
nature (which has placed the conclusion and the gradation 
of things in their rightful course), disordered the depths 
of his soul ; but his manners were ever sweet and harmo- 
nious ; nay, his grief, far from injuring his temper, taught 
him a still greater degree of consideration and gentleness 
for others. 

Twice or thrice in the voyage from Harwich to Emden 
the sea threatened stormily. Nevil directed the sailors, 
re-assured the passengers ; and while, toiling himself, he 
for a moment took the pilot's place, there was a vigour and 
address in what he did, which could not be regarded as 
the simple effect of personal strength and activity, for 
mind pervaded it all. 

When they were about to part, all on board crowded 
round him to take leave, thanking him for a thousand 
good offices, which he had forgotten : sometimes it was a 
child that he had nursed so long ; more frequently, some old 
man whose steps he had supported while the wind rocked 
the vessel. Such an absence of personal feeling was scarce 
ever known. His voyage had passed without his having 
devoted a moment to himself; he gave up his time to 
others, in melancholy benevolence. And now the whole 
crew cried, almost with one voice, ^' God bless you, my 
Lord ! we wish you better ! " 

Yet Oswald had not once complained ; and the persons 
of a higher class, who had crossed with him, said not a 
word on this subject : but the common people, in whom 
their superiors rarely confide, are wont to detect the truth 
without the aid of words : they pity you when you suffer, 
though ignorant of the cause ; and their spontaneous sym- 
pathy is unmixed with either censure or advice. 


Travelling, say what we will, is one of the saddest plea- 
sures in life. If you ever feel at ease in a strange place. 


it is because you have begun to make it your home ; but 
to traverse unknown lands, to hear a language which you 
hardly comprehend, to look on faces unconnected with 
either your past or future, this is solitude without repose 
or dignity ; for the hurry to arrive where no one awaits 
you, that agitation whose sole cause is curiosity, lessens you 
in your own esteem, while, ere new objects can become 
old, they have bound you by some sweet links of senti- 
ment and habit. 

Oswald felt his despondency redoubled in crossing Ger- 
many to reach Italy, obliged by war to avoid France and 
its frontiers, as well as the troops, who rendered the roads 
impassable. This necessity for attending to detail, and 
taking, almost every instant, a new resolution, was utterly 
insufferable. His health, instead of improving, often 
obliged him to stop, while he longed to arrive at some 
other place, or at least to fly from where he was. He took 
the least possible care of his constitution ; accusing him- 
self as culpable, with but too great severity. If he wished 
still to live, it was but for the defence of his country. 

'^ My native land," would he sigh — '' has it not a 
parental right over me ? but I want power to serve it use- 
fully. I must not offer it the feeble existence which I 
drag towards the sun, to beg of him some principle of life, 
that may struggle against my woes. None but a father 
could receive me thus, and love me the more, the more I 
was deserted by nature and by fate." 

He had flattered himself that a continual change of 
external objects would somewhat divert his fancy from its 
usual routine ; but he could not, at first, realise this effect. 
It were better, after any great loss, to familiarise ourselves 
afresh with all that had surrounded us, accustom our- 
selves to the old familiar faces, to the house in which we 
had lived, and the daily duties which we ought to resume ; 
each of these efforts jars fearfully on the heart ; but no- 
thing multiplies them like an absence. 

Oswald's only pleasure was exploring the Tyrol, on a 

horse which he had brought from Scotland and who 

climbed the hills at a gallop. The astonished peasants 

began by shrieking with fright, as they saw him borne 

B 3 


along the precipice's edge, and ended by clapping their 
hands in admiration of his dexterity _, grace_, and courage. 
He loved the sense of danger. It reconciled him for the 
instant with that life which he thus seemed to regain, and 
which it would have been so easy to lose. 


At Inspruck, where he stayed for some time, in the house 
of a banker, Oswald was much interested by the history of 
Count d'Erfeuil, a French emigrant, who had sustained the 
total loss of an immense fortune with perfect serenity. By 
his musical talents he had maintained himself and an aged 
uncle, over whom he watched till the good man's death, 
constantly refusing the pecuniary aid which had been 
pressed on him. He had displayed the most brilliant va- 
lour — that of France — during the war, and an unchange- 
able gaiety in the midst of reverses. He was anxious to 
visit Rome, that he might find a relative, whose heir he ex- 
pected to become ; and wished for a companion, or rather 
a friend, with whom to make the journey agreeably. 

Lord Nevil's saddest recollections were attached to 
France ; yet he was exempt from the prejudices which 
divided the two nations. One Frenchman had been his 
intimate friend, in whom he had found an union of the 
most estimable qualities. He therefore offered, through 
the narrator of Count d'Erfeuil's story, to take this noble 
and unfortunate young man with him to Italy. The 
banker in an hour informed him that his proposal was 
gratefully accepted. Oswald rejoiced in rendering this 
service to another, though it cost him much to resign his 
seclusion ; and his reserve suffered greatly at the prospect 
of finding himself thus thrown on the society of a man he 
did not know. 

He shortly received a visit of thanks from the Count, 
who possessed an elegant manner, ready politeness, and 
good taste ; from the first appearing perfectly at his ease. 


Every one, on seeing him, wondered at what he had un- 
dergone ; for he bore his lot with a courage approaching 
to forgetfulness. There was a liveliness in his convers- 
ation truly admirable, while he spoke of his own misfor- 
tunes ; though less so, it must be owned, when extended to 
other subjects. 

'' I am greatly obliged to your Lordship," said he, " for 
transporting me from Germany, of which I am tired to 
death." — "And yet," replied Nevil, "you are univer- 
sally beloved and respected here." — " I have friends, 
indeed, whom I shall sincerely regret ; for in this country 
one meets none but the best of people : only I don't know 
a word of German ; and you will confess that it were a 
long and tedious task to learn it. Since I had the ill-luck 
to lose my uncle, I have not known what to do with my lei- 
sure : while I had to attend on him, that filled up my time ; 
but now the four-and- twenty hours hang heavily on my 
hands." — " The delicacy of your conduct towards your 
kinsman, Count," said Nevil, " has impressed me with the 
deepest regard for you." — ^' 1 did no more than my duty. 
Poor man ! he had lavished his favours on my childhood. I 
could never have left him, had he lived to be a hundred ; but 
'tis well for him that he's gone; 'twere well forme to be 
with him," he added, laughing, " for I 've little to hope in 
tliis world. I did my best, during the war, to get killed ; 
but since fate would spare me, I must live on as I may." 
— "I shall congratulate myself on coming hither," an- 
swered Nevil, " should you do well in Rome ; and if " 

— " Oh, Heaven ! " interrupted d'Erfeuil, " I do well 
enough every where ; while we are young and cheerful, 
all things find their level. 'Tis neither from books nor 
from meditation that I have acquired my philosophy, but 
from being used to the world and its mishaps ; nay, you 
see, my Lord, I have some reason for trusting to chance, 
since I owe to it the opportimity of travelling with you." 
The Count then agreed on the hour for setting forth next 
day, and, with a graceful bow, departed. After the mere 
interchange of civilities with which their journey com- 
menced, Oswald remained silent for some hours; but per- 
ceiving that this fatigued his fellow-traveller, he asked him 
B 4 


if he anticipated much pleasure in their Italian tour. 
" Oh," replied the Count, " I know what to expect, and 
don't look forward to the least amusement. A friend of 
mine passed six months there, and tells me that there is 
not a French province without a better theatre, and more 
agreeable society, than Rome ; but in that ancient capitd 
of the world I shall be sure to find some of my country- 
men to chat with ; and that is all I require." — ^' Then 
you have not been tempted to learn Italian .5*" — '^^ No, 
that was never included in the plan of my studies," he 
answered, with so serious an air, that one might have 
thought him expressing a resolution founded on the gravest 
motives. " The fact is," he continued, '' that I like no 
people but the English and the French. Men must be 
proud like you, or wits like ourselves ; all the rest is 
mere imitation." Oswald said nothing. A few moments 
afterwards the Count renewed the conversation by sallies 
of vivacity and humour, in which he played on words 
most ingeniously ; but neither what he saw nor what 
he felt was his theme. His discourse sprang not from 
within, nor from without ; but, steering clear alike of 
reflection and imagination, found its subjects in the 
superficial traits of society. He named twenty persons 
in France and England, enquiring if Lord Nevil knew 
them ; and relating as many pointed anecdotes, as if, 
in his opinion, the only language for a man of taste was 
the gossip of good company. Nevil pondered for some 
time on this singular combination of courage and frivolity, 
this contempt of misfortune, which would have been so 
heroic if it had cost more effort, instead of springing from 
the same source which rendered him incapable of deep 
affections. " An Englishman," thought he, ^^ would have 
been overwhelmed by similar circumstances. Whence does 
this Frenchman derive his fortitude, yet pliancy of cha- 
racter } Does he rightly understand the art of living ? I 
deem myself his superior, yet am I not ill and wretched.^ 
Does his trifling course accord better than mine with the 
fleetness of life ? Must one fly from thought as from a foe, 
instead of yielding all the soul to its power.-*" In vain he 
sought to clear these doubts ; he could caU no aid from 


his own intellectual region, whose hest qualities were even 
more ungovernable than its defects. 

The Count gave none of his attention to Italy, and ren- 
dered it almost impossible for Oswald to be entertained by 
it. D'Erfeuil turned from his friend's admiration of a 
fine country, and sense of its picturesque charm : our in- 
valid listened as oft as he could to the sound of the winds, 
or the murmur of the waves ; the voice of nature did more 
for his mind than sketches of coteries held at the foot of 
the Alps, among ruins, or on the banks of the sea. His 
own grief would have been less an obstacle to the pleasure 
he might have tasted than was the mirth of d'Erfeuil. 
The regrets of a feehng heart may harmonise with a con- 
templation of nature and an enjoyment of the fine arts ; but 
frivolity, under whatever form it appears, deprives attention 
of its power, thought of its originality, and sentiment of 
its depth. One strange effect of the Count's levity was 
its inspiring Nevil with diffidence in aU their affairs to- 

The most reasoning characters are often the easiest 
abashed. The giddy embarrass and over-awe the contem- 
plative ; and the being who calls himself happy appears 
wiser than he who suffers. D'Erfeuil was every way mild, 
obliging, and free ; serious only in his self-love, and 
worthy to be liked as much as he could like another ; that 
is, as a good companion in pleasure and in peril, but one 
who knew not how to participate in pain. He wearied of 
Oswald's melancholy ; and, as well from the goodness of 
his heart as from taste, he strove to dissipate it. ^^ What 
would you have ? " he often said : ^' Are you not young, 
rich, and well, if you choose ? you are but fancy-sick. I 
have lost all, and know not what will become of me ; yet I 
enjoy life as if I possessed every earthly blessing." — " Your 
courage is as rare as it is honourable," replied Nevil ; " but 
the reverses you have known wound less than do the sor- 
rows of the heart." — "The sorrows of the heart ! ay, true, 
they must be the worst of all ; but still you must console 
yourself; for a sensible man ought to banish from his 
mind whatever can be of no service to himself or others. 
Are we not placed here below to be useful first, and con- 


sequently happy ? My dear Nevil, let^'us hold by that 

All this was rational enough^ in the usual sense of the 
word; for d'Erfeuil was, in most respects, a clear-headed 
man. The impassioned are far more liable to weakness, 
than the fickle ; but, instead of his mode of thinking se- 
curing the confidence of Nevil, he would fain have assured 
the Count that he was the happiest of human beings, to 
escape the infliction of his attempts at comfort. Never- 
theless, d'Erfeuil became strongly attached to Lord Nevil. 
His resignation and simpHcity, his modesty and pride, 
created respect irresistibly. The Count was perplexed by 
Oswald's external composure, and taxed his memory for all 
the grave maxims, which in childhood he had heard from 
his old relations, in order to try their effect upon his friend ; 
and, astonished at failing to vanquish his apparent coldness, 
he asked himself, '^ Am I not good-natured, frank, brave, 
and popular in society ? What do I want, then, to make an 
impression on this man ? May there not be some misunder- 
standing between us, arising, perhaps, from his not suf- 
ficiently understanding French ? " 


An unforeseen circumstance much increased the sensations 
pf deference which d'Erfeuil felt towards his travelling 
companion. Lord Nevil's state of health obliged him to 
stop some days at Ancona. Mount and main conspired to 
•beautify its site ; and the crowd of Greeks, orientally seated 
aX work before the shops, the varied costumes of the 
Levant, to be met with in the streets, give the town an 
original and interesting air. Civilisation tends to render 
all men alike, in appearance if not in reality ; yet fancy 
may find pleasure in characteristic national distinctions. 

Men only resemble each other when sophisticated by 
sordid or fashionable life; whatever ^s natural admits of 


variety. There is a slight gratification^ at least for the 
eyes, in that diversity of dress, which seems to promise Us 
experience in equally novel ways of feeling and of judgment. 
The Greek, Catholic, and Jewish forms of worship exist 
peaceably together in Ancona. Their ceremonies are 
strongly contrasted; but the same sigh of distress, the same 
petition for support, ascends to Heaven from all. 

The Catholic church stands on a height that overlooks 
the main, the lash of whose tides frequently blends with 
the chant of the priests. Within, the edifice is loaded 
by ornaments of indifferent taste ; but, pausing beneath the 
portico, the soul delights to recall its purest of emotions — 
religion, — while gazing at that superb spectacle, the sea, 
on which man never left his trace. He may plough the 
earth, and cut his way through mountains, or contract 
rivers into canals, for the transport of his merchandise ; 
but if his fleets for a moment furrow the ocean, its waves 
as instantly efface this slight mark of servitude, and it 
again appears such as it was on the first day of its creation.* 

Lord Nevil had decided to start for Rome on the mor- 
row, when he heard, during the night, a terrific cry from 
the streets, and hastening from his hotel to learn the cause, 
beheld a conflagration which, beginning at the port, spread 
from house to house towards the top of the town. The 
flames were reflected afar off in the sea; the wind, increasing 
their violence, agitated their images on the waves, which 
mirrored in a thousand shapes the blood-red features of a 
lurid fire. The inhabitants, having no engine in good re- 
pair (1), hurriedly bore forth what succour they could; 
above their shouts was heard a clank of chains, as the slaves 
from the galleys toiled to save the city which served them for 

* Lord Byron translated this paragraph in the fourth canto of Childe Harold, 
but without acknowledging whence the ideas were borrowed : — 

" Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean — roll ! 
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain : 
Man marks the earth with ruin — his control 
Stops with the shore ; — upon the wat'ry plain 
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain 
A shadow of man's ravage. ♦ * 

* * * * * 

Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow — 
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou roUest now." 

See stanzas 179. and 182.— .Tr. 

ItSt corinne; or italy. 

a prison. The various people of the Levant, whom com- 
merce had drawn to Ancona, betrayed their dread by the 
stupor of their looks. The merchants, at sight of their 
blazing stores, lost all presence of mind. Trembhng for 
fortune as much as for life, the generality of men were 
scared from that zealous enthusiasm which suggests re- 
sources in emergency. 

The shouts of sailors have ever something dreary in 
their sound ; fear now rendered them still more appalling. 
The mariners of the Adriatic were clad in pecuhar red and 
brown hoods, from which peeped their animated Italian 
faces, under every expression of dismay. The natives, 
lying on the earth, covered their heads with their cloaks, as 
if nothing remained for them to do but exclude the sight of 
their calamity. Reckless fury and blind submission reigned 
alternately, but no one evinced that coolness which re- 
doubles our means and our strength. 

Oswald remembered that there were two English vessels 
in the harbour : the pumps of both were in perfect order : he 
ran to the Captain's house, and put off with him in a boat, 
to fetch them. Those who witnessed this exclaimed to 
him, '' Ah, you foreigners do well to leave our unhappy 
town !" — " We shall soon return," said Oswald. They 
did not believe him, till he came back, and placed one of the 
pumps in front of the house nearest to the port, the other 
before that which blazed in the centre of the street. Count 
d'Erfeuil exposed his life with gay and careless daring. 
The English sailors and Lord Nevil's servants came to his 
aid, for the populace remained motionless, scarcely under- 
standing what these strangers meant to do, and without the 
sHghtest faith in their success. The bells rung from all 
sides ; the priests formed processions ; weeping females 
threw themselves before their sculptured saints ; but no one 
thought on the natural powers which God has given man 
for his own defence. Nevertheless, when they perceived 
the fortunate effects of Oswald's activity — the flames ex- 
tinguished, and their homes preserved — rapture succeeded 
astonishment : they pressed around him, and kissed his 
hand with such ardent eagerness, that he was obliged by 
feigned displeasure to drive them from him^ lest they should 


impede the rapid succession of necessary orders for saving 
the town. Every one ranked himself beneath Oswald's 
command ; for, in trivial as in great events, where danger 
is, firmness will find its rightful station ; and while men 
strongly fear, they cease to feel jealousy. Amid the general 
tumult, Nevil now distinguished shrieks more horrible than 
aught he had previously heard, as if from the other extre- 
mity of the town. He enquired their source ; and was told 
that they proceeded from the Jews' quarter. The officer of 
police was accustomed to close its gates every evening ; the 
fire gained on it, and the occupants could not escape. 
Oswald shuddered at the thought, and bade them instantly 
open the barriers ; but the women, who heard him, flung 
themselves at his feet, exclaiming, '' Oh, our good angel ! 
you must be aware that it is certainly on their account we 
have endured this visitation ; it is they who bring us ill 
fortune ; and if you set them free, all the water of the 
Dccan will never quench these flames." They entreated him 
to let the Jews be burnt with as much persuasive eloquence 
as if they had been petitioning for an act of mercy. Not 
that they were by nature cruel, but that their superstitious 
fancies were forcibly struck by a great disaster. Oswald 
with difficulty contained his indignation at hearing a prayer 
so revolting. He sent four English sailors, with hatchets, 
to cut down the gate which confined these hapless men, 
who instantly spread themselves about the town, rushing 
to their ixierchandize, through the flames, with that greedi- 
ness of wealth, which impresses us so painfully, when it 
drives men to brave even death ; as if human beings, in the 
present state of society, had nothing to do with the simple 
gift of life. There was now but one house, at the upper 
part of the town, where the fire mocked all efforts to sub- 
due it. So little interest had been shown in this abode, 
that the sailors, believing it vacant, had carried their pumps 
towards the port. Oswald himself, stunned by the calls 
for aid around him, had almost disregarded it. The con- 
flagration had not been early communicated to this place, 
but it had made great progress there. He demanded so 
earnestly what the dwelling was, that at last a man in- 
formed him, — the Hospital for Maniacs ! Overwhelmed by 


these tidings, he looked in vain for his assistants, or Count 
d'Erfeuil, as vainly 'did he call on the inhabitants: they 
were employed in taking care of their property, and deemed 
it ridiculous to risk their lives for the sake of men who 
were all incurably mad. '*^ It will be no one's fault if they 
die, but a blessing to themselves and families/' was the 
general opinion ; but while they expressed it, Oswald strode 
rapidly towards the building, and even those who blamed 
involuntarily followed him. On reaching the house, he 
saw, at the only window not surrounded by flame, the un- 
conscious creatures, looking on, with that heart-rending 
laughter which proves either an ignorance of all life's sad 
realities, or such deep-seated despair as disarms death's most 
frightful aspect of its power. An indefinite chill seized 
him at this sight. In the severest period of his own distress 
he had felt as if his reason were deserting hitn ; and, since 
then, never looked on insanity without the most painful 
sympathy. He secured a ladder which he found near, 
placed it against the wall, ascended through the flames, and 
entered, by its window, the room where the unfortunate 
lunatics were assembled. Their derangement was suf- 
ficiently harmless to justify their freedom within doors; 
only one was chained. Fortunately the floor was not con- 
sumed, and Oswald's appearance in the midst of these 
degraded beings had all the effect of enchantment ; at first 
they obeyed him without resistance. He bade them de- 
scend before him, one after the other, by the ladder, which 
might in a few seconds be destroyed. The first of them 
complied in silence, so entirely had Oswald's looks and 
tones subdued him. Another, heedless of the danger in 
which the least delay must involve Oswald and himself, 
was inclined to rebel ; the people, alive to all the horrors 
of the situation, called on Lord Nevil to come down, 
and leave the senseless wretches to escape as they could ; 
but their deliverer would listen to nothing that could defeat 
his generous enterprise. Of the six patients found in the 
hospital, five were already safe. The only one remaining 
was the youth who had been fettered to the wall. Oswald 
loosened his irons, and bade him take the same course as 
his companions ; but_, on feeling himself at liberty, after 


two years of bondage, he sprung about the room with frantic 
delight, which, however, gave place to fury, when Oswald 
desired him to get out of the wmdow. But finding per- 
suasion fruitless, and seeing that the fatal element was fast 
extending its ravages, he clasped the struggling maniac in 
his arms ; and, while the smoke prevented his seeing where 
to step, leaped from the last bars of the ladder, giving the 
rescued man, who still contended with his benefactor, into 
the hands of persons whom he charged to guard him 

Oswald, with his locks disordered, and his countenance 
sweetly yet proudly animated by the perils he had braved, 
struck the gazing crowd with an almost fanatical admir- 
ation ; the women, particularly, expressed themselves in that 
fanciful language, the universal gift of Italy, which often 
lends a dignity to the address of her humblest children. 
They cast themselves on their knees before him, crying, — 
" Assuredly thou art St. Michael, the patron of Ancona. 
Show us thy wings, yet do not fly, save to the top of our 
cathedral, where all may see and pray to thee !" — " My 
child is ill, oh cure him !" said one. — " Wiiere," added 
another, " is my husband, who has been absent so many 
years ? tell me ! '* Oswald was longing to escape, when 
d'Erfeuil, joining him, pressed his hand. '' Dear Nevil ! " 
he began, ^^ could you share nothing with your friend? 
'twas cruel to keep all the glory to yourself." — '' Help me 
from this place ! " returned Oswald in a low voice. A mo- 
ment's darkness favoured their flight, and both hastened in 
search of post-horses. Sweet as was the first sense of the 
good he had just effected, with whom could he partake it, 
now that his best friend was no more ? So wretched is the 
orphan, that felicity and care alike reminds him of his heart's 
solitude. What substitute has life for the affection born 
with us ? for that mental intercourse, that kindred sym- 
pathy, that friendship, formed by Heaven to exist hut 
between parent and child ? W^e may love again ; but the 
happiness of confiding the whole soul to another, — that we 
can never regain. 



Oswald sped to Rome, over the Marches of Ancona^ and 
the Papal State_, without remarking or interesting himself 
in any thing. Besides its melancholy, his disposition had 
a natural indolence, from which it could only be roused by 
some strong passion. His taste was not yet developed ; he 
had lived but in England and France ^ ; in the former, 
society is every thing, — in the latter, political interests nearly 
absorb all others. His mind, concentrated in his griefs, 
could not yet solace itself in the wonders of nature, or the 
works of art. 

D'^rfeuil, running through every town, with the Guide- 
Book in his hand, had the double pleasure of making away 
with his time, and of assuring himself that there was 
nothing to see worthy the praise of any one who had been in 
France. This nil admirari of his discouraged Oswald, who 
was also somewhat prepossessed against Italy and Italians. 
He could not yet penetrate the mystery of the people or 
their country, — a mystery that must be solved rather by 
imagination than by that spirit of judgment which an En- 
glish education particularly matures. 

The Italians are more remarkable for what they have 
'aeen, and might be, than for what they are. The wastes 
that surround Rome, as if the earth, fatigued by glory, 
disdained to become productive, are but uncultivated and 
neglected lands to the utilitarian. Oswald, accustomed 
from his childhood to a love of order and public prosperity, 
received, at first, an unfavourable impression in crossing 
isuch abandoned plains as approaches to. the former queen 
of cities. Looking on it with the eye of an enlightened 
patriot, he censured the idle inhabitants and their rulers. 

The Count d'Erfeuil regarded it as a man of the world ; 
and thus the one from reason, and the other from levity, 
remained dead to the effect which the Campagna produces 

• This alludes to a previous tour : in his present one, Oswald has not ap- 
proached France. His longest stay was in Germany. — ^Tr. 


on a mind filled by a regretful memory of those natural 
beauties and splendid misfortunes, which invest this country 
with an indescribable charm. 

The Count uttered the most comic lamentations over 
the environs of Rome. " What !" said he, " no villas ? no 
equipages ? nothing to announce the neighbourhood of a 
great city ? Good God ! how dull ! " The same pride 
with which the natives of the coast had pointed out the 
sea, and the Neapolitans showed their Vesuvius, now trans- 
ported the postillions, who exclaimed, " Look ! that is the 
cupola of St. Peter's." — " One might take it for the dome 
Of the Invalides ! " cried d'Erfeuil. This comparison, 
rather national than just, destroyed the sensation which Os- 
wald might have received, in first beholding that magni- 
ficent wonder of man's creation. 

They entered Rome, neither on a fair day, nor a lovely 
night, but on a dark and misty evening, which dimmed and 
confused every object before them. They crossed the 
Tiber without observing it ; passed through the Porto del 
Popolo, which led them at once to the Corso, the largest 
street of modern Rome, but that which possesses the least 
originality of feature, as being the one which most re- 
sembles those of other European towns. 

The streets were crowded ; puppet-shows and mounte- 
banks formed groups round the base of Antoninus' pillar. 
Oswald's attention was caught by these objects, and the 
name of Rome forgotten. He felt that deep isolation 
which presses on the heart, when we enter a foreign scene, 
and look on a multitude to whom our existence is unknown, 
and who have not one interest in common with us. These 
reflections, so saddening to all men, are doubly so to the 
English, who are accustomed to live among themselves, 
and find it difficult to blend with the manners of other 
lands. In Rome, that vast caravansary, all is foreign, even 
the Romans, who seem to live there, not like its possessors, 
but hke pilgrims who repose among its ruins. (2) Oppressed 
by labouring thoughts, Oswald shut himself in hisroomj 
instead of exploring the city ; little dreaming that the 
country he had entered beneath such a sense of dejection 
would soon become the mine of so many new ideas and 

18 oorinne; or italy. 




Oswald awoke in Rome. The dazzling sun of Italy met 
his first gazCj and his soul was penetrated with sensations 
of love and gratitude for that heaven^ which seemed to 
smile on him in these glorious beams. He heard the hells 
of numerous churches ringing, discharges of cannon from 
various distances, as if announcing some high solemnity. 
He enquired the cause, and was informed that the most 
celebrated female in Italy was about that morning to be 
crowned at the Capitol, — Corinne, the poet and improvi- 
satrice, one of the loveliest women of Rome. He asked 
some questions respecting this ceremony, hallowed by the 
names of Petrarch and of Tasso : every reply he received 
warmly excited his curiosity. 

There can be nothing more hostile to the habits and 
opinions of an Englishman than any great publicity given 
to the career of a woman. But the enthusiasm with which 
all imaginative talents inspire the Italians, infects, at least 
for the time, even strangers, who forget prejudice itself 
among people so lively in the expression of their senti- 

The common populace of Rome discuss their statues, 
pictures, monuments, and antiquities, with much taste ; 
and literary merit, carried to a certain height, becomes with 
them a national interest. 

On going forth into the public resorts, Oswald found 
that the streets through which Corinne was to pass had 
been adorned for her reception. The herd, who generally 
throng but the path of fortune or of power, were almost in 
a tumult of eagerness to look on one whose soul was her 


only distinction. In the present state of the Italians^ the 
glory of the fine arts is all their fate allows them ; and 
they appreciate genius of that order with a vivacity which 
might raise up a host of great men, if applause could suffice 
to produce them — if a hardy life, strong interest, and an 
independent station were not the food required to nourish 

Oswald walked the streets of Rome, awaiting the arrival 
of Corinne : he heard her named every instant ; every one 
related some new trait, proving that she united ajl the 
talents most captivating to the fancy. One asserted that 
her voice was the niost touching in Italy; another, that, in 
tragic acting, she had no peer; a third, that she danced 
like a nymph, and drew with equal grace and invention : 
ftll said that no one had ever written or extemporised verses 
80 sweet; and that, in daily conversation, she displayed 
alternately an ease and an eloquence which fascinated all 
who heard her. They disputed as to which part of Italy 
had given her birth ; some earnestly contending that she 
must be a Roman, or she could not speak the language with 
such purity. Her family name was unknown. Her first 
work, which had appeared five years since, bore but tiiat 
of Corinne. No one could tell where she had lived, nor what 
she had been, before that period; and she was now nearly 
six and twenty. Such mystery and publicity, united in the 
fate of a female of whom every one spoke, yet whose real 
name no one knew, appeared to Nevil as among the won- 
ders of the land he came to see. He would have judged 
such a woman very severely in England ; but he applied 
not^er social etiquettes to Italy; and the crowning of Co- 
rinne awoke in his breast the same sensation which he 
would have felt on reading an adventure of Ariosto's. 

A burst of exquisite melody preceded the approach of 
the triumphal procession. How thrilUng is each event 
that is heralded by music ! A great number of Roman 
nobles^ and not a few foreigners, came first. '^ Behold 
her retinue of admirers ! " said one. ^* Yes," replied an- 
other; " she receives a whole world's homage, but accorda 
her preference to none. She is rich, independent; it is even 
believed, from her noble air, that she is a lady of high 
G 2 

20 cobinne; or italy. 

birth_, who wishes to remain unknown." — " A divinity 
veiled in clouds/' concluded a third. Oswald looked on the 
man who spoke thus : every thing betokened him a person 
of the humblest class ; but the natives of the South converse 
as naturally in poetic phrases as if they imbibed them with 
the air, or were inspired by the sun. 

At last four spotless steeds appeared in the midst of the 
crowd_, drawing an antiquely shaped car, beside which 
walked a maiden band in snowy vestments. Wherever 
Corinne passed, perfumes were thrown upon the air ; the 
windows, decked with flowers and scarlet hangings, were 
peopled by gazers, who shouted, '' Long live Corinne ! 
Glory to beauty and to genius ! " 

This emotion was general ; but, to partake it, one must 
lay aside English reserve and French raillery; Nevil could 
not yield to the spirit of the scene, till he beheld Corinne. 

Attired like Domenichino's Sibyl, an Indian shawl was 
twined among her lustrous black curls, a blue drapery fell 
over her robe of virgin white, and her whole costume was 
picturesque, without sufficiently varying from modern 
usage to appear tainted by affectation. Her attitude was 
noble and modest : it might, indeed, be perceived that she 
was content to be admired ; yet a timid air blended with 
her joy, and seemed to ask pardon for her triumph. The 
expression of her features, her eyes, her smile, created 
a sohcitude in her favour, and made Lord Nevil her 
friend even before any more ardent seritiment subdued 
liim. Her arms were transcendently beautiful ; her figure 
tall, and, as we frequently see among the Grecian statues, 
rather robust — energetically characteristic of youth and 
happiness. There was something inspired in her air ; 
yet the very manner in which she bowed her thanks for 
the applause she received, betrayed a natural disposition 
sweetly contrasting the pomp of her extraordinary situ- 
ation. She gave you at the same instant the idea of a 
priestess of Apollo advancing towards his temple, and of 
a woman born to fulfil the usual duties of life with per- 
fect simplicity ; in truth, her every gesture elicited not 
more wondering conjecture, than it conciliated sympathy 
and affection. The nearer she approached the Capitol, so 


fruitful in classic associations, the more these admiring 
tributes increased : the raptures of the Romans, the clear- 
ness of their sky, and, above all, Corinne herself, took 
electric effect on Oswald. He had often, in his own land, 
seen statesmen drawn in triumph by the people ; but this 
was the first time that he had ever witnessed the tender of 
such honours to a woman, illustrious only in mind. Her 
car of victory cost no fellow mortal's tear ; nor terror nor 
regret could check his admiration for those fairest gifts of 
nature — creative fancy, sensibility, and reason. These new 
ideas so intensely occupied him, that he noticed none of the 
long-famed spots over which Corinne proceeded. At the 
foot of the steps leading to the Capitol the car stopped, and 
all her friends rushed to offer their hands : she took that of 
Prince Castel Forte, the nobleman most esteemed in Rome 
for his talents and character. Every one approved her choice. 
She ascended to the Capitol, whose imposing majesty seemed 
graciously to welcome the light footsteps of woman. The 
instruments sounded with fresh vigour, the cannon shook 
the air, and the all- conquering Sibyl entered the palace 
prepared for her reception. 

In the centre of the hall stood the senator who was to 
crown Corinne, surrounded by his brothers in office ; on 
one side, all the cardinals and most distinguished ladies of 
Rome ; on the other, the members of the Academy ; while 
the opposite extremity was filled by some portion of the 
multitude who had followed Corinne. The chair destined 
for her was placed a step lower than that of the senator. Ere 
seating herself in presence of that august assembly, she 
complied with the custom of bending one knee to the earth : 
the gentle dignity of this action filled Oswald's eyes with 
tears, to his own surprise ; but, in the midst of all this 
success, it seemed as if the looks of Corinne implored the 
protection of a friend, with which no woman, however 
superior, can dispense ; and he thought how delicious it 
were to be the stay of her, whose sensitiveness alone could 
render such a prop necessary. As soon as Corinne was 
seated, the Roman poets recited the odes and sonnets com- 
posed for this occasion : all praised her to the highest ; but 
in styles that described her no more than they would have 
c 3 


done any other woman of genius. The same mythological 
images and allusions must have been addressed to such beings 
from the days of Sappho to our own. Already Nevil dis- 
liked this kind of incense for her : he fancied that he could 
that moment have drawn a truer, a more finished portrait; 
such, indeed, as could have belonged to no one but Co- 


Prince Castel Forte now took up the discourse, in a 
manner which riveted the attention of his audience. He 
was a man of fifty, with a measured address and com- 
manding carriage. The assurance which Nevil had re- 
ceived, that he was but the friend of Corinne, enabled him 
to listen with unqualified delight to what, without such 
safeguard, he could not, even thus early, have heard, save 
with a confused sense of jealousy. 

The Prince read some pages of unpretending prose, sin- 
gularly fitted, notwithstanding to display the spirit of 
Corinne. He pointed out the particular merit of her 
Works as partly derived from her profound study of fo- 
reign literature, teaching her to unite the paphic descrip- 
tions of the South, with that observant knowledge of the 
human heart which appears the inheritance of those whose 
countries offer fewer objects of external beauty. He lauded 
her graceful gaiety, that, free from ironical satire, seemed 
to spring but from the freshness of her fancy. He strove 
to speak of her tenderness ; but it was easily to be seen 
that personal regret mingled with this theme. He touched 
on the difficulty for a woman so endowed to meet, in real 
life, with any object resembling the ideal image clad in 
the hues of her own heart ; then contented himself by de- 
picting the impassioned feelings which kindled her poetry, 
— her art of seizing on the most touching charms of nature, 
the deepest emotions of the soul. He complimented the 
originality of her expressions, which, arising from her own 


peculiar turn of thought, constituted an involuntary speU, 
untarnished by the slightest cloud of mannerism. He 
spoke of her eloquence as a resistless power, which must 
transport most those who possessed the best sense and 
the truest susceptibihty. ^' Corinne/' said he, " is doubt- 
less more celebrated than any other of our countrywomen : 
and yet it is only her friends who can describe her. Tlie 
quaUties of the soul, if real, always require to be guessed ; 
fame, as well as obscurity, might prevent their detection, 
if some congenial sympathy came not to our aid." He 
dilated on her talent as an improvisatrice, as distinct from 
every thing which had been known by that name in Italy. 
'^'^ It is not only attributable," he continued, " to the fer- 
tility of her mind, but to her deep enthusiasm for all ge- 
nerous sentiments : she cannot pronounce a word that 
recalls them, but that inexhaustible source of thought 
overjflows at her lips in strains ever pure and harmonious; 
her poetry is intellectual music, such as alone can embody 
the fleeting and delicate reveries of the heart." He ex- 
tolled the conversation of Corinne, as one who had tasted 
all its dehghts. " There," he said, ^' is united all that is 
natural, fanciful, just, sublime, powerful, and sweet, to 
vary the mental banquet every instant ; it is what Petrarch 
termed — 

* II parlar che nell* anima si sente,' — 

a language that is felt to the heart's core, and must possess 
much of the vaunted Oriental magic which has been given 
by the ancients to Cleopatra. The scenes I have visited 
with her, the lays we have heard together, the pictures she 
has shown me, the books she has taught me to enjoy, com- 
pose my universe. In all these is some spark of her Kfe; 
and were I forced to dwell afar from her, I would, at 
least, surround myself with them, though certain to seek 
in vain for her radiant traces amongst them, when once 
she had departed." 

" Yes ! " he cried, as his glance accidentally fell upon 

Oswald; *' look on Corinne, if you may pass your days 

with her — if that twofold existence can be long secured to 

you; but behold her not, if you must be condemned to 




leave her. Vainly would you seek, however long you might 
survive, the creative spirit which multipHed in partaking 
all your thoughts and feelings : you would never find it 
more ! " 

Oswald shuddered at these words ; his eyes were 
fixed on Corinne, who listened with an agitation self-love 
cannot produce ; it helongs only to humility and to grati- 
tude. Castel Forte resumed the address, which a mo- 
mentary weakness had suspended. He spoke of Corinne 
as a painter and a musician; of her declamation and her 
dancing. *' In all these exertions," he said, '^ she is still 
herself — confined to no one mode, nor rule — hut expressing, 
in various languages, the enchantments of Art and Imagin- 
ation. I cannot flatter myself on having faithfully repre- 
sented one of whom it is impossible to form an idea till 
she herself is known ; but her presence is left to Rome, as 
among the chief blessings beneath its brilliant sky. Corinne 
is the link that binds her friends to each other. She is 
the motive, the interest of our lives ; we rely on her worth, 
pride in her genius, and say to the sons of other lands, 
* Look on the personation of our own fair Italy. She is 
what we might be, if freed from the ignorance, envy, dis- 
cord, and sloth, to which fate has reduced us.' We love 
to contemplate her, as a rare production of our climate, 
and our fine arts ; a relic of the past, a prophetess of the 
future ; and when strangers, pitiless of the faults born of 
our misfortunes, insult the country whence have arisen the 
planets that illumed all Europe, still we but say to them, 
*" Look upon Corinne.' Yes ; we will follow in her track, 
and be such men as she is a woman ; if, indeed, men can, 
like women, make worlds in their own hearts; if our moral 
temperaments, necessarily dependent on social obligations 
and exterior circumstances, could, like hers, owe all their 
light to the glorious torch of poesy ! " 

The instant the Prince ceased to speak, was followed by 
an unanimous outbreak of admiration, even from the 
leaders of the State, although the discourse had ended by 
an indirect censure on the present situation of Italy; so 
true it is, that there men practise a degree of liberality 
which, though it extends not to any improvement of their 


institutions, readily pardons superior minds, for a mild 
dissent from existing prejudices. Castel Forte was a man 
of high repute in Rome. He spoke with a sagacity re- 
markable among a people usually wiser in actions than in 
words. He had not, in the affairs of life, that ability which 
often distinguishes an Italian; but he shrank not from 
the fatigue of thinking, as his happy countrymen are wont 
to do j trusting to arrive at ail truths by intuition, even as 
their soil bears fruit, unaided, save by the favour of heaven. 


CoBiNNE rose, as the Prince finished his oration. She 
thanked him by an inclination of the head, which diffi- 
dently betrayed her sense of having been praised in a strain 
after her own heart. It was the custom for a poet crowned 
at the Capitol to extemporise or recite in verse, ere re- 
ceiving the destined bays. Corinne sent for her chosen 
instrument, the lyre, more antique in form and simpler 
in sound than the harp : while tuning it, she was op- 
pressed by so violent a tremor, that her voice trembled as 
she asked what theme she was to attempt. " The glory 
and welfare of Italy ! " cried all near her. '^ Ah, yes !" she 
exclaimed, already sustained by her own talents ; '^ the 
glory and welfare of Italy ! " Then, animated by her love 
of country, she breathed forth thoughts to which prose or 
another language can do but imperfect justice. 


Cradle of Letters ! Mistress of the World ! 
Soil of the Sun ! Italia ! I salute thee ! 
How oft the human race have worn thy yoke, 
The vassals of thiue arms, thine arts, thy sky ! 

Olympus for Ausonia once was left, 
And by a God. Of such a land are bom 
Dreams of the golden time, for there man looks 
Too happy to suppose him criminal. 

• For the translation of this Ode, the proprietor of the Standard Novela is 
indebted to the pen of Miss L. E, Landon. 

26 corinne; or italy. ,? 

By genius Rome subdued the world, then reign'd | 

A queen by liberty. The Roman mind > 

Set its own stamp upon the universe ; ,'; 

And, when barbarian hordes whelm'd Italy, ',] 

Then darkness was entire upon the earth. ^^ 

Italia reappear'd, and with her rose '| 

Treasures divine, brought by the wandering Greeks ; \ 

To her were then reveal'd the laws of Heaven. ., 

Her daring children made discovery ; 

Of a new hemisphere : Queen still she held 
Thought's sceptre ; but that laurell'd sceptre made 
Ungrateful subjects. 

Imagination gave her back the world 
Which she had lost. Painters and poets shaped 
Earth and Olympus, and a heaven and hell. 
Her animating fire, by Genius kept, 
Far better guarded than the Pagan God's, 
Found not in Europe a Prometheus 
To bear it from her. 

And wherefore am I at the Capitol? 
Why should my lowly brow receive the crown 
Which Petrarch wore ? which yet suspended hangs 
Where Tasso's funeral cypress mournful waves : 
Why ? oh, my countrymen ! but that you love 
Glory so well, that you repay its search 
Almost like its success. 

Now, if you love that glory which too oft 
Chooses its victims from its vanquishers, 
Those which itself has crown'd ; think, and be proud 
Of days wliich saw the perish'd Arts reborn. 
Your Dante ! Homer of the Christian age. 
The sacred poet of Faith's mysteries, — 
Hero of thought, — whose gloomy genius plunged 
In Styx, and pierced to hell ; and whose deep soul 
Was like the abyss it fathom'd. 

Italia ! as she was in days of power 
Revived in Dante : such a spirit stirr'd 
In old republics ; bard and warrior too. 
He lit the fire of action 'mid the dead, 
Till e'en his shadows had more vigorous life 
Than real existence ; still were they pursued 
By earthly memories : passions without aim 
Gnaw'd at their heart, still fever'd by the past ; 

cobinne; or italy. 

Yet less irrevocable seem'd that past. 
Than their eternal future. 

Methinks that Dante, banish'd his own soil, 
Bore to imagined worlds his actual grief, 
Ever his shades enquire the things of life, 
As ask'd the poet of his native land ; 
And from his exile did he paint a hell. 
In his eyes Florence set her stamp on all ; 
The ancient dead seem'd Tuscans like himself: 
Not that his power was bounded, but his strength ; 
And his great mind forced all the universe 
Within the circle of its thought. 

A mystic chain of circles and of spheres 
Led him from Hell to Purgatory ; thence 
From Purgatory unto Paradise ; 
Faithful historian of his glorious dream, 
He fills with light the regions most obscure ; 
The world created in his triple song 
Is brilliant, and complete, and animate, 
Like a new planet seen within the sky. 

All upon earth doth change to poetry 
Beneath his voice : the objects, the ideas, 
The laws, and all' the strange phenomena. 
Seem like a new Olympus with new Gods, — 
Fancy's mythology, — which disappears 
Like Pagan creeds at sight of paradise. 
That sea of light, radiant with shining stars, 
And love, and virtue. 

The magic words of our most noble bard 
Are like the prism of the universe ; — 
Her marvels there reflect themselves, divide. 
And re-create her wonders ; sounds paint hues, 
And colours melt in harmony. The rhyme — 
Sounding or strange, and rai^id or prolong'd — 
That charm of genius, triumph of high art ; 
Poetry's divination, which reveals 
All nature's secrets, such as influence 
The heart of man. 

From this great work did Dante hope the end 
Of his long exile ; and he call'd on Fame 
To be his mediator : but he died 
Too soon to reap the laurels of his land. 
Thus wastes the transitory life of man 

2S "^ corinne; or italy. 

In adverse fortunes j and he glory wins, 

If some chance tide, more happy, floats to shore. 

The grave is in the port ; and destiny, 

In thousand shapes, heralds the close of life 

By a return of happiness. 

Thus the ill-fated Tasso, whom your praise, 
O Romans ! 'mid his wrongs, could yet console,— 
The beautiful, the chivalric, the brave, 
Dreaming the deeds, feeling the love he sung,— - 
"With awe and gratitude approach'd your walls. 
As did his heroes to Jerusalem. 
They named the day to crown him ; but its eve 
Death bade him to his feast, the terrible ! 
The Heaven is jealous of the Earth ; and calls 
Its favourites from the stormy waves of time. 

'Twas in an age more happy and more free 
Than Tasso's, that, like Dante, Petrarch sang : 
Brave poet of Italian liberty. 
Elsewhere they know him only by his love : 
Here memories more severe aye consecrate 
His sacred name ; his country could inspire 
E'en more than Laura. 

His vigils gave antiquity new life ; 
Imagination was no obstacle 
To his deep studies : that creative power 
Conquer'd the future, and reveal'd the past. 
He proved how knowledge lends invention aid ; 
And more original his genius seem'd. 
When, like the powers eternal, it could be > 
Present in every time. 

Oilr laughing climate and our air serene 
Inspired our Ariosto : after war. 
Our many long and cruel wars, he came 
Like to a rainbow ; varied and as bright 
As that glad messenger of summer hours, 
His light, sweet gaiety is like nature's smile, 
And not the irony of man. 

RafFaele, Galileo, Angelo, 
Pergolese ; you ! intrepid voyagers, 
Greedy of other lands, though Nature never 
Could yield ye one more lovely than your own ; 
Come ye, and to our poets join your fame : 
Artists, and sages, and philosophers, 


Ye are, like them, the children of a sun 
"Which kindles valour, concentrates the mind, 
Developes fancy, each one in its turn ; 
Which lulls content, and seems to promise all, 
Or make us all forget. 

Know ye the land where orange-trees are blooming 
Where all heaven's rays are fertile, and with love ? 
Have you inhaled these perfumes, luxury ! 
In air already so fragrant and so soft ? 
Now answer, strangers ; Nature, in your home, 
Is she as generous or as beautiful ? 

Not only with vine-leaves and ears of corn 
Is Nature dress'd, but 'neath the feet of man, 
As at a sovereign's feet, she scatters flowers 
And sweet and useless plants, wliich, born to please, 
Disdain to serve. 

Here pleasures delicate, by nature nurst, — 
Felt by a people who deserve to feel : < — 
The simplest food suffices for their wants. 
What though her fountains flow with purple wine 
From the abundant soil, they drink them not ! 
They love their sky, their arts, their monuments ; 
Their land, the ancient, and yet bright with spring ; 
Brilliant society; refined delight: 
Coarse pleasures, fitting to a savage race, 
Suit not with them. 

Here the sensation blends with the idea ; 
Life ever draws from the same fountain-head ; 
The soul, like air, expands o'er earth and heaven. 
Here Genius feels at ease ; its reveries 
Are here so gentle ; its unrest is soothed : 
For one lost aim a thousand dreams are given, 
And nature cherishes, if man oppress; 
A gentle hand consoles, and binds the wound : 
E'en for the griefs that haunt the stricken heart, 
Is comfort here : by admiration fill'd, 
For God, all goodness ; taught to penetrate 
The secret of his love ; not by brief days — 
Mysterious heralds of eternity — 
But in the fertile and majestic breast 
Of the immortal universe ! 


Corinne was interrupted for some moments by impetuous 
applause. Oswald alone joined not in the noisy transport 
around him. He had bowed his head on his hand, when 
Corinne said — 

*' E'en for the sorrows of the stricken heart 
Is comfort here :" 

he had not raised it since. Corinne observed him ; and, 
from his features, the colour of his hair, his dress, his 
height — indeed, from his whole appearance — recognised 
him as English. She was struck by the mourning which 
he wore, and his melancholy countenance. His gaze, then 
fixed upon herself, seemed gently to reproach her: she 
entered into his thoughts, and felt a wish to sympathise 
with him, by speaking of happiness with less rehance, and 
consecrating some few verses to Death in the midst of a 
festival. With this intention she again took up her lyre ; 
a few prolonged and touching tones silenced the assem- 
blage, while thus she continued : — 

Yet there are griefs which our consoling sky 
May not efface : but where will grief convey 
Noble and soft impressions to the soul, 
As it does here? 

Elsewhere the living cannot find them space 
For all their hurrying paths, and ardent hopes ; 
And deserts, ruins, vacant palaces, , 

Leave a vast vacancy to shadows ; — Rome, 
Is she not now the country of the tomb ? 

The Coliseum, and the obelisks — 
The wonders brought from Egypt and from Greece — 
From the extremity of time, here met, 
From Romulus to Leo, — all are here, 
Greatness attracting greatness, that one place 
Might garner all that ^nan could screen from time : 
All consecrate to funeral monuments. 
Our idle life is scarcely here perceived : 
The silence of the living to the dead 
Is homage : they endure, but we decay. 

The dead alone are honour'd, a.nd alone 
Recorded still ; — our destinies obscure 


Contrast the glories of our ancestors ; 
Our present life leaves but the past entire, 
And deep the quiet around memory : 
Our trophies are the work of those no more : 
Genius itself ranks 'mid th' illustrious dead. 

It is Rome's secret charm to reconcile 
Imagination with our long last sleep. 
"We are resign'd ourselves, and sutler less 
For those we love. The people of the South 
Paint closing life in hues less terrible 
Than do the gloomy nations of the North : 
The sun, like glory, even warms the grave. 

The chill, the solitude of sepulchres 
'Neath our fair sky, beside our funeral urns 
So numerous, less haunt the frighted soul. 
We deem they wait for us, yon shadowy crowd : 
And from our silent city's loneliness 
Down to the subterranean one below 
It is a gentle passage. 

The edge of grief is blunted thus, and turn'd. 
Not by a harden'd heart, a wither'd soul, 
But by a yet more perfect harmony, — 
An air more fragrant, — blending with our life. 
We yield ourselves to Nature with less fear — 
Nature, whose great Creator said of old, — 
" The lilies of the vale, lo ! they toil not, 
And neither do they spin : 
Yet the great Solomon, in all his glory. 
Was not array 'd like one of these." 

Oswald was so enchanted by these stanzas, that he tes- 
tified his transport with a vehemence unequalled by the 
Romans themselves : in sooth, it was to him, rather than to 
her countrymen, that the second improvisation of Corinne 
had been addressed. The generality of Italians read poetry 
witli a kind of monotonous chant, that destroys all effect.(3) 
In vain the words vary, the impression is ever the same ; 
because the accent is unchanged : but Corinne recited with 
a mobility of tone which increased the charm of its sus- 
tained harmony. It was like listening to different airs, 
all played on the same celestial organ. 

A language so stately and sonorous, breathed by so 

f32 cobinne; or italy. 

gentle and affecting a voice^ awakened a very novel sens- 
ation in the mind of Oswald. The natural beauties of the 
English tongue are all melancholy ; tinted by clouds^ and 
tuned by lashing waves : but Italian^ among sounds, may 
be compared to scarlet, among colours ; its words ring like 
clarions of victory, and glow with all the bhss a delicious 
dime can shower on human hearts. When, therefore^ 
Italian is spoken by a faltering tongue, its splendour melts, 
its concentrated force causes an agitation resistless as un- 
foreseen. The intents of Nature seem defeated, her boun- 
ties useless or repulsed ; and the expression of sorrow in the 
midst of enjoyment, surprises, touches us more deeply, 
than would despair itself, if sung in those northern Ian- 
guages, which it seems to have inspired. 


The senator took the crown of bays and myrtle he was 
to place on the brow of Corinne. She removed the shawl 
which had bound the ebon curls that now fell about her 
shoulders, and advanced with an air of pleased thankful- 
ness, which she strove not to dissemble. Again she knelt; 
but not in trepidation, as at first. She had just spoken, 
had filled her soul with godlike images ; enthusiasm had 
surmounted timidity ; she was no longer the shrinking maid, 
but the inspired vestal who exultingly devoted herself to 
the worship of Genius. 

When the chaplet was set upon her head, the musicians 
sent forth one of those triumphant airs which so power- 
fully exalt the soul. The clash of cymbals, and the 
flourish of trumpets, overwhelmed Corinne afresh ; her 
eyes filled, she sunk on a seat, and covered her face. Os- 
wald rushed from the crowd, and made a few steps towards 
her, but an uncontrollable embarrassment kept him silent. 
Corinne, taking care that he should not detect her, looked 
^n him for some time ; and when Prince Castel Forte took 
her hand to lead her from the Capitol, she yielded in abs- 


traction, frequently turning, on various pretexts, to gaze 
again on Oswald. He followed her ; and as she descended 
the steps, one of these gestures displaced her crown, which 
Oswald hastily raised, and presenting it, said in Itahan a 
few words, implying that humble mortals lay at the feet 
of their deities the crowns they dare not place upon their 
brows. (4) What was his astonishment when Corinne 
thanked him in English, with that insular accent, which 
can scarce ever be acquired on the Continent : he remained 
motionless, till, feeling himself almost faint, he leaned 
against one of the basaltic Uons that stand at the foot of 
the staircase. Corinne gazed on him again, forcibly struck 
by his emotion ; but they led her to her car, and the whole 
crowd had disappeared, long ere Oswald recovered his pre- 
sence of mind. Till now, he had been enchanted as with 
a most attractive foreigner; but that Enghsh intonation 
had brought back all the recollections of his country, and, 
as it were, naturalised in his heart the charms of Corinne. 
"Was she English ? Had she not passed many years of her 
life in England ? He could not guess ; but it was impossible 
that study alone could have taught her to speak thus. She 
must have lived in the same country with himself. 

Who could tell, but that their families might have been 
related ? perhaps he had even seen her in his childhood. 
There is often in the heart some innate image of the beings 
we are to love that lends to our first sight of them almost an 
air of recognition. Oswald had believed the Italians, 
though impassioned, too vacillating for deep or constant 
affection. Already had the words of Corinne given him a 
totally distinct view of their character. What then must 
he feel should he thus at once revive the remembrance of 
his home, and receive a new-born Hfe, for future enjoy- 
ment, without being weaned from the past ? In the midst 
of these reveries he found himself on the bridge of St. 
Angelo, which leads to the castle of that name, or rather to 
Adrian's tomb, which has been converted into a fortress. 
The silence of the scene, the pale waves of the Tiber, the 
moon-beams that lit up the statues, till they appeared like 
pallid phantoms, steadfastly watching the current of time, 
by which they could be influenced no more ; all these ob- 


S4j corinne ; or italy. 

jects recalled him to his habitual train of thought : he lay 
his hand on his breast, and felt the portrait of his father, 
which he always wore ; he drew it forth, and gazed on it, 
while the cause of the felicity he had just enjoyed but too 
strongly reminded him of all that long since had tempted 
his rebelhon against his parent. 

^' Ever haunting memory ! " he cried, with revived re- 
morse, " too wronged and too forgiving friend ! could I 
have believed myself capable of feeling so much pleasure 
thus soon after thy loss ? but it is not thine indulgent 
spirit which rebukes me : thou wouldst have me happy in 
spite of my faults; or may I not mistake thy mandates 
now uttered from above, I, who misunderstood them while 
thou wert yet on earth ? " 




The Count d'Erfeuil had been present at the capitol, and 
called the next day on Lord Nevil, saying, ^' My dear 
Oswald ! would you Hke me to take you to Corinne's this 
evening ? " — " How ! " interrupted Oswald, eagerly, "do you 
know her ? " — " Not I j but so famous a person is always 
gratified by a desire to see her; and I wrote this morning 
for her permission to visit her house to-night, with you." 
— " I could have wished," rephed Oswald, blushing, " that 
you had not named me thus without my consent." — " You 
should rather thank me for having spared you so many 
tedious formahties. Instead of going to an ambassador, 
who would have led you to a cardinal, who might have 
taken you to a lady, who, perhaps, could have introduced 
you to Corinne, I shall present you, you will present me, 
and we shall both be very well received." — "I am less 
confident than you; and, doubtless, it is but rational to 


conclude that so hasty a request must have displeased her." 
— '^ Not at all, I assure you, she is too sensible a girl, as 
her polite reply may prove." — ^' Has she then answered you? 
What had you said, my dear Count !" — " Ah ! 'my dear 
Count,' is it?" laughed d'Erfeuil, " you melt apace, now 
you know that she has answered me ; but I Hke you too 
well not to forgive all that. I humbly confess, then, that 
my note spoke more of myself than of you, and that hers 
gives your lordship's name precedence; but then, you 
know, I'm never jealous of my friends." — '^'^ Nay," re- 
turned Nevil, '' it is not in vanity to expect that either of 
us can render ourselves agreeable to her. All I seek is 
sometimes to enjoy the society of so wondrous a being. 
This evening, then, since you have so arranged it." — " You 
will go with me?" — '* Why, yes," rejoined Nevil, in 

visible confusion " Why then all this regret at what I've 

done ? though 'tis but just to leave you the honour of 
being more reserved than I, always provided that you lose 
nothing by it. She's really a delightful person, this Co- 
rinne ! with a vast deal of ease and cleverness. I could 
not very well make out what she talked of, but, I'll wager 
you she speaks French : we can decide that to-night. 
She leads a strange life. Young, free, and wealthy, yet 
no one knows whether she has any lovers or no. It seems 
plain that at present she favours no one ; that she should 
never have met, in this country, with a man worthy of her, 
don't astonish me in the least." D'Erfeuil ran on for some 
time, in this kind of chat, without any interruption from 
Oswald. He said nothing which could exactly be called 
coarse, yet his light matter-of-fact manner, on a topic so 
interesting, clashed with the delicacy of his companion. 
There is a refinement which even wit and knowledge of 
the world cannot teach their votaries, who often wound 
the heart, without violating perfect politeness. Lord 
Nevil was much disturbed during the day in thinking over 
the visit of the evening ; but he did his utmost to banish 
his disquieting presentiments, and strove to persuade him- 
self that he might indulge a pleasing idea, without per- 
mitting it to decide his fate. False hope ! the heart can 
receive no bliss from that which it knows must prove 
» 2 


evanescent. Accompanied by the Count he arrived at the 
house of Corinne, which was situated a little beyond the 
castle of St. Angelo, commanding a view of the Tiber. 
Its interior was ornamented with the most perfect elegance. 
The hall embellished by casts of the Niobe, Laocoon^ 
Venus de jNIedicis, and dying Gladiator ; while in the 
sitting-room usually occupied by Corinne^ he found but 
books, musical instruments, and simple furniture, arranged 
for the easy conversation of a domestic circle. Corinne 
was not there when he entered ; and, while waiting for her, 
he anxiously explored the apartment, remarking in its every 
detail a happy combination of the best French, ItaUan, 
and English attributes ; a taste for society, a love of let- 
ters, and a zeal for the fine arts. Corinne at last appeared ; 
though ever picturesque, she was attired without the least 
research. She wore some antique cameos in her hair, and 
round her throat a band of coral. Natural and familiar as 
she was among her friends, they still recognised the di- 
vinity of the capitol. She bowed first to Count d'Erfeuil, 
though looking at his friend; then, as if repenting this 
insincerity, advanced towards Oswald, and twice repeated 
^' Lord Nevil ! " as if that name was associated in her 
mind with some affecting reminiscence. At last she said 
a few words in Italian on his obliging restoration of her 
crown. Oswald endeavoured to express his admiration, 
and gently complained of her no longer addressing him in 
English. '' Am I a greater stranger than I was yesterday.?" 
he said. — " Certainly not," she replied; "but when one 
has been accustomed for many years of one's life to speak 
two or three different languages, one chooses that which 
will best express what one desires to say." — " Surely," 
he cried, " English is your native tongue — that which 
you speak to your friends." — " I am an Italian," inter- 
rupted Corinne. " Forgive me, my Lord ! but I think I 
perceive in you the national importance which so often 
characterises your countrymen. Here we are more lowly, 
neither self-complacent, like the French, nor proud of our- 
selves, like the Enghsh. A little indulgence suffices us 
from strangers ; and we have the great fault of wanting^ 
as individuals, that dignity which we are not allowed as a 


people ; but wlien you know us^ you may find some traces 
of our ancient greatness, such as, though few and half 
effaced,, might be restored by happier times. I shall now 
and then speak to you in English, but Italian is more dear 
to me. I have suffered much," she added, sighing, " that 
I might live in Italy." D'Erfeuil here gallantly upbraided 
her for conversing in languages of which he was entirely 
ignorant. " In mercy, fair Corinne," he said, '' speak 
French : you are truly worthy to do so." She smiled at 
this compliment, and granted its request, with ease, with 
purity, but with an Enghsh accent. Nevil and the Count 
were equally astonished ; but the latter, who believed that 
he might say what he pleased, provided he did so with a 
grace, imagining that impoliteness dwelt not in matter 
but in manner, put the direct question to Corinne, on thei^ 
reason of this singularity. She seemed at first somewhat 
uneasy, beneath this sudden interrogation ; then recovering 
herself, said, '' It seems, monsieur, that I must have 
learnt French of an English person." He renewed hi^ 
attack with earnest gaiety. Corinne became more confused^ 
and at last said, gravely, " During the four years that I have 
lived in Rome, monsieur, none even of the friends most 
interested in me have ever enquired into my fate : they un- 
derstood, from the first, that it was painful for me to 
speak of it." This check silenced the Count ; but Corinne 
feared that she had hurt him ; and, as he seemed so inti- 
mate with Lord Nevil, she dreaded still more, without 
confessing it to herself, that he might speak unfavourably 
of her to his companion, and therefore took sufficient 
pains in atoning to him. The Prince Castel Forte now 
arrived, with many of their mutual acquaintance, men of 
lively and amiable minds, of kind and courteous manners, 
BO easily animated by the conversation of others, so capable 
of appreciating all that deserved approval, that they made 
the best listeners possible. The Italians are usually too 
indolent to display in society, or often in any way, the wit 
they really possess. The generality of them cultivate not, 
even in seclusion, the intellectual faculties of their natures; 
but they revel in the mental delights which find them 
without any trouble of their own. Corinne had all a 



Frenchwoman's sense of the ridiculous,, and evinced it 
with all the fancy of an Italian ; but she mingled in both 
such sweetness of temper that nothing appeared precon- 
certed or hostile — for, in most things, it is coldness which 
offends ; while vivacity, on the contrary, has almost in- 
variably an air of good nature. Oswald found in Corinne 
a grace which he had never before met. 

A terrible event of his life was associated with recol- 
lections of a very lovely and gifted Frenchwoman ; but 
Corinne in no way resembled her. Every creature's best 
seemed united in the conversation he now partook. Inge- 
niously and rapidly as she twined its flowers, nothing was 
frivolous, nothing incomplete; such washer depth of feel, 
ing, and knowledge of the world, that he felt borne away^ 
and lost in wonder, at qualities so contrasted. He asked 
himself, if it was from an all-embracing sensibility, or from 
a forgetfulness of each mood, as a new one succeeded, that 
she fled, almost in the same instant, '^ from grave to gay, 
from lively to severe," from learning that might have in- 
structed men, to the coquetry of a woman who amused 
herself with making conquests ; yet, in this very coquetry, 
there was such perfect nobleness, that it exacted as much 
respect as the most scrupulous reserve. The Prince Castel 
Forte, and aU her other guests, paid her the most assiduous 
and delicate attention. The habitual homage with which 
they surrounded her gave the air of a fete to every day of 
her life. She was happy in being beloved, just as one is 
happy to breathe in a gentle cHme, to hear harmonious 
sounds, and receive, in fact, none but agreeable impressions. 
Her lively and fluctuating countenance betrayed each emo- 
tion of her heart ; but the deep and serious sentiment of 
love was not yet painted there. Oswald gazed on her in 
silence : his presence animated and inspired her with a 
wish to please. Nevertheless, she sometimes checked her- 
self, in the midst of her most brilliant saUies, astonished 
at his external composure, and doubting whether he might 
not secretly blame her, or if his English notions could 
permit him to approve such success in a woman. He was, 
however, too fascinated to remember his former opinions 
pn the obscurity which best becomes a female; but he 


asked himself, who could ever become dear to her ? What 
single object could ever concentrate so many rays, or take 
captive a spirit gifted with such glorious wings ? In truth, 
he was alike dazzled and distressed ; nay, though, as he 
took leave, she politely invited him to visit her again, a 
whole day elapsed without his going to her house, re- 
strained by a species of terror at the feeling which excited 
him. Sometimes he compared it with the fatal error of 
his early youth ; but instantly rejected such comparison. 
Then it was by treacherous arts he had been subdued ; and 
who could doubt the truth, the honour of Corinne > Were 
her spells those of poetry or of magic ? Was she a Sappho 
or an Armida ? It was impossible to decide. Yet it was 
evident, that not society, but Heaven itself, had formed this 
extraordinary being, whose mind was as inimitable as her 
character was unfeigned. ^' Oh, my father ! " he sighed, 
" had you known Corinne, what would you have thought 
of her.?" 


The Count d'Erfeuil called on Lord Nevil, as usual, next 
morning ; and, censuring him for not having visited Corinne 
the preceding night, said gaily, " You would have been de- 
lighted if you had." — " And why }" asked his friend. — 
*' Because yesterday gave me the most satisfactory assurance 
that you have extremely interested her." — " Still this le- 
vity ? Do you not know that I neither can nor will endure 
it ?" — " What you call levity is rather the readiness of my 
observation : have I the less reason, because my reason is 
active? You were formed to grace those blest patriarchal days 
when man had five centuries to live ; but I warn you that 
we have retrenched four of them at least." — '^ Be it so ! 
And what may you have discovered by these quickly 
matured observations of yours?" — " That Corinne is in 
love with you. Last evening, when I went to her house, I 
was weU enough received, of course ; but her eyes were 
fixed on the door, to look whether you followed me. She 
D 4 

40 cobinne; or italy. 

attempted to speak of something else ; but, as she happens 
to be a mighty natural young person, she presently, in all 
simpHcity, asked why you were not with me ? — I said, 
because you would not come, and that you were a gloomy, 
eccentric animal : I'll spare you whatever I might have 
further said in your praise. — ' He is pensive,' re- 
marked Corinne : ^ doubtless he has lost some one who 
was dear to him : for whom is he in mourning? ' — ' His 
father, madame, though it is more than a year since his 
death ; and, as the law of nature obliges us to survive our 
relations, I conclude that some more private cause exists 
for his long and settled melancholy.' — ' Oh,' exclaimed 
she, ^ I am far from thinking that griefs apparently the 
same act alike on all. The father of your friend, and 
your friend himself, were not, perhaps, men of the common 
order. I am greatly inclined to think so.' Her voice 
was so sweet, dear Oswald, as she uttered these words ! " 
— " And are these all your proofs of her interest in me ? " 
— ^f Why, truly, with half of them I should make sure 
of being beloved; but since you will have better, you 
shall. I kept the strongest to come last. The Prince 
Castel Forte related the whole of your adventure at An- 
cona, without knowing that it was of you he spoke. He 
told the story with much fire, as far as I could judge, 
thanks to the two Italian lessons I have taken ; but there 
are so many French words in all foreign languages, that 
one understands them, without the fatigue of learning. 
Besides, Corinne's face explained what I should not else 
have comprehended. 'T was so easy to read the agitation 
of her heart : she would scarcely breathe, for fear of 
losing a single word : when she enquired if the name of 
this Englishman was known, her anxiety was such, that I 
could very well estimate the dread she suffered, lest any 
other name than yours should be pronounced in reply. 
Castel Forte confessed his ignorance ; and Corinne, turn- 
ing eagerly to me, cried, ' Am I not right, monsieur ? was 
it not Lord Nevil ? ' — ^ Yes, madame,' said I, and then 
she melted into tears. She had not wept during the his- 
tory : what was there in the name of its hero more affect- 
ing than the recital itself ? " — " She wept ! " repeated 

corinnb; or italy. 41 

Oswald. " Ah, why was I not there ? " then instantly 
checking himself, he cast down his eyes, and his manly 
face expressed the most delicate timidity. He hurriedly 
resumed the topic, lest d'Erfeuil should impair his sacred 
joy by one comment. " If the adventure at Ancona be 
worth the telling, its honour belongs to you, also, my dear 
Count." — " They certainly did speak of a most engaging 
Frenchman, who was with you, my Lord," rejoined d'Er- 
feuil, laughing ; " but no one, save myself, paid any 
attention to that parenthesis. The lovely Corinne pre- 
fers you, doubtless believing that you would prove more 
faithful than I — this may not be the case — you may 
even cost her more pains than I should have done; but 
your very romantic women love trouble, therefore you will 
suit her exactly." Nevil smarted beneath each word ; but 
what could he say ? D'Erfeuil never argued ; nay, he 
could not even listen with sufficient attention to alter his 
opinions : once uttered, he cared no more about them, and 
the best plan was to forget them, if possible, as quickly as 
he did himself. 


That evening Oswald reached the house of Corinne with 
entirely new sensations. He fancied that he might be 
expected. How entrancing that first beam of intelligence 
between one's self and the being we adore ! ere memory 
contends the heart with hope, ere the eloquence of words 
has sought to depict our feelings. There is, in these first 
hours of love, some indefinite and mysterious charm, more 
fleeting, but more heavenly than even happiness itself. 

Oswald found Corinne alone : this abashed him much : 
he could have gazed on her in the midst of her friends ; 
but would fain have been in some way convinced of her 
preference, ere thus suddenly engaged in an interview 
which might chill her manner towards him ; and in that 
expectation his own address became cold from very embar- 
rassment. Whether she detected this, or that similar feel- 


ings made her desire to remove his restraint, she speedily 
enquired if he had yet seen any of the antiquities of Rome. 
"No." — "Then how were you employed yesterday?" 
she asked with a smile. — "I passed the day at home. 
Since I came hither I have seen hut you, madame, or re- 
mained alone." She wished to speak of his conduct at 
Ancona, and began, — " I learnt last night — " here she 
paused, and then said, " but I will talk of that when our 
party have joined us." Lord Nevil had a dignity which 
intimidated Corinne ; besides, she feared, in alluding to his 
noble behaviour, that she should betray too much emotion ; 
and trusted to feel less before witnesses. Oswald was 
deeply touched by this reserve, and by the frankness with 
which she unconsciously disclosed its motive; but the 
more oppressed he became, the less could he explain him- 
self. He hastily rose, and went to the window; then 
remembering that this action must be unintelligible to 
Corinne, he returned to his seat, without speaking ; and 
though she had more confidence than himself, his diffidence 
proved so contagious, that, to cover her abstraction, she 
ran her fingers over her harp, and struck a few uncon- 
nected chords : these melodious sounds, though they in- 
ca-eased the emotions of Oswald, lent him a slight degree 
of firmness. He dared to look on her ; and who could do 
so without being struck by the divine inspiration enthroned 
in her eyes } Re-assured by the mildness which veiled their 
splendour, he might have spoken, had not Prince Castel 
Forte that instanf entered the room. It was not without 
a pang that he beheld Nevil tete-a-tete with Corinne : 
but he was accustomed to conceal his sensations ; and that 
habit, which an Italian often unites with the most vehe- 
ment passions, in him was rather the result of lassitude 
and natural gentleness. He had resigned the hope of 
being the first object of Corinne's regard; he was no 
longer young. He had just the wit, taste, and fancy, 
which varies, without disturbing one's existence ; and felt 
it so needful for his life to pass every evening with Corinne, 
that, had she married, he would have conjured her hus- 
band to let him continue this routine ; on which condition 
it would not have cost him much regret to see her united 


with another. The heart's disappointments are not, in 
Italy, aggravated by those of vanity. You meet some men 
jealous enough to stab their rivals, others sufficiently 
modest to accept the second place in the esteem of a 
woman whose company they enjoy ; but you seldom find 
those who, rather than appear rejected, deny themselves 
the pleasure of keeping up a blameless intimacy. The 
dominion of society over self-love is scarcely known in the 
land. The Count d'Erfeuil and Corinne's wonted guests 
having assembled, the conversation turned on the talent 
for improvisation, which she had so gloriously displayed 
at the Capitol ; and she was asked what she thought of it 
herself. " It is so rare a thing," said Castel Forte, " to 
find a person at once susceptible of enthusiasm, and capa- 
ble of analysis ; endowed as an artist, yet gifted with so 
much self-knowledge, that we ought to implore her reve- 
lation of her own secret." — " The faculty of extem- 
porising," returned Corinne, '' is not more extraordinary 
in southern tongues, than senatorial eloquence or lively 
repartee in other languages. I should even say that, un- 
fortunately, it is easier for us to breathe impromptu verse 
than to speak well in prose, from which poetry differs 
so widely, that the first stanzas, by their mere expressions, 
remove the poet from the sphere of his auditors, and thus 
command attention. It is not only to the sweetness of 
Italian, but to the emphatic vibration of its syllables, that 
we should attribute the influence of poetry amongst us. 
Italian has a musical charm, which confers delight by the 
very sound of its words, almost independent of ideas, 
though nearly all those words are so graphic, that they 
paint their own significations on the mind : you feel that 
but in the midst of the arts, and beneath a beauteous sky, 
could a language so melodious and highly coloured have had 
birth. It is, therefore, easier in Italy than any where 
dse to mislead by speeches, unaided by depth or novelty 
of thought. Poetry, like all the fine arts, captivates the 
senses as much as the mind. Nevertheless, I venture to 
assert, that I never act the improvisatrice, unless beneath 
some real feeling, or some image which I believe original. 
I hope that I rely less than others on our bewitching 

44 corinne; or italy. 

tongue ; on which, indeed, one may prelude at random, 
and bestow a vivid pleasure, solely by the charm of 
rhythm and of harmony." — '^ You think, then," said one 
of her friends, ^' that this genius for spontaneous verse 
does injury to our literature ? 1 thought so too, till I 
heard you, who have entirely reversed my decision." — 
*' I have said," returned Corinne, ^' that from this 
facility and abundance must result a vast quantity of in- 
different poems; but I rejoice that such fruitfulness 
should exist in Italy, as I do to see our plains covered 
with a thousand superfluous productions. I pride in this 
bounty of Heaven. Above all, I love to find improvisatores 
among the common people : it shows that imagination of 
theirs which is hidden in all other circumstances, and 
only developes itself amongst us. It gives a poetic air to 
the humblest ranks of society, and spares us from the dis- 
gust we cannot help feeling, against what is vulgar in all 
classes. When our Sicilians, while rowing the traveller 
in their barks, lend their graceful dialect to an endearing 
welcome, or sing him a kind and long farewell, one might 
dream that the pure sea breeze acted on man as on an 
EoUan harp ; and that the one, like the other, echoed but 
the voice of nature. Another reason why I set this value 
on our talent for improvisation is, that it appears one 
which could not possibly survive among a community dis- 
posed to ridicule. Poets who risk this perilous enterprise 
require all the good humour of a country in which men 
love to amuse themselves, without criticising what amuses 
them. A single sneer would suffice to banish the pre- 
sence of mind necessary for rapid and uninterrupted com- 
position. Your hearers must warm with you, and their 
plaudits must be your inspiration." — '' But, madame," 
said Oswald, who, till now, had gazed in silence on Co- 
rinne, " to which class of your poems do you give the 
preference } those that are the works of reflection, or such 
as were instantaneously inspired ?" — " My Lord," replied 
Corinne, with a look of gentle deference, " I will make 
you my judge ; but if you bid me examine my own heart 
I should say that improvisation is, to me, like animated 
converse. I do not confine myself to such or such sub- 

cobinne; or italy. 45 

jects, but yield to whatever produces that degree of interest 
in my hearers which most infects myself; and it is to 
my friends that I owe the greater portion of my talent in 
this line. Sometimes, while they speak on the noble 
questions that involve the moral condition of man, — the aim 
and end of his duties here, — mine impassioned excitement 
carries me beyond myself; teaches me to find in nature, 
and mine own heart, such daring truths, and forcible ex- 
pressions, as solitary meditation could never have engen- 
dered. Mine enthusiasm, then, seems supernatural: a 
spirit speaks within me far greater than mine own ; it 
often happens that I abandon the measure of verse to ex- 
plain my thoughts in prose. Sometimes I quote the most 
appHcable passages from the poets of other lands. Those 
divine apostrophes are mine, while my soul is filled by 
their import. Sometimes my lyre, by a simple national 
air, may complete the effect which flies from the control 
of words. In truth, I feel myself a poet, less when a 
happy choice of rhymes, of syllables, of figures, may 
dazzle my auditors, than when my spirit soars disdainful 
of all selfish baseness ; when godlike deeds appear most 
easy to mc, 'tis then my verse is at its best. I am, indeed, 
a poet while I admire or hate, not by my personal feelings, 
nor in mine own cause, but for the sake of human dignity, 
and the glory of the world ! " Corinne, now perceiving 
how far she had been borne away, blushed, and, turning to 
Lord Nevil, said, '' You see 1 cannot touch on any of 
the themes that affect me without that kind of thrill 
which is the source of ideal beauty in the arts, of religion 
in the recluse, generosity in heroes, and disinterestedness 
among men. Pardon me, my Lord : such a woman little 
resembles those of your country." — " Who can resemble 
you ?" replied Oswald ; '' and who shall make laws for a 
being so pecuUar ? " 

The Count d'Erfeuil was actually spell-bound : without 
understanding all she said, her gestures, voice, and manner, 
charmed him. It was the first time that any, save French 
graces, had moved him thus. But, to say truth, the po- 
pularity of Corinne aided and sanctioned his judgment ; 
so that he might rave of her without relinquishing his 

46 corinne; or italy, 

convenient habit of being guided by the opinion of others. 
As they left the house together, he said to his friend, 
" Confess, now, dear Oswald, that I have some merit in 
not paying my court to so delightful a person." — '' But,'* 
replied Nevil, '' they say that she is difficult to please." 
— ^' They say, but I don't believe it. A single woman, 
who leads the life of an artist, can't be difficult to please." 
Nevil's feelings were wounded by this remark ; but whether 
d'Erfeuil saw it not, or was resolved to follow the bent of 
his own inclinations, he continued, " Not but, if I could 
beheve in any woman's virtue, I should trust hers above 
all. She has certainly a thousand times more ardour than 
were required in your country, or even in mine, to create 
doubts of a lady's cruelty ; yet she is a creature of such 
superior tact and information, that the ordinary rules for 
judging her sex cannot be applied to her. Would you 
believe it } I find her manners imposing : they overawe 
me in spite of her careless affability. I wished yesterday, 
merely out of gratitude for her interest in you, to hazard 
a few words on my own account ; such as make what way 
they can ; if they are listened to, so much the better, if 
not, why that may be luckier still j but Corinne looked on 
me coldly, and I was altogether disconcerted. Is it not 
absurd to feel out of countenance before an Italian, a poet, 
an — every thing that ought to put a man at his ease ? " — 
" Her name is unknown," replied Nevil^ '^ but her be- 
haviour assures us that she is highly born." — " Nay, 'tis 
only the fashion of romance to conceal one's nobihty: — in 
real life, people tell every thing that can do themselves 
credit, and even a little more than the truth." — " Yes, 
in some societies, where they think but of the effect pro- 
duced on others ; bu*. here, where life is more domestic, 
here there may be secrets, which only he who marries 
Corinne should seek to fathom." — '^ Marry Corinne !" re- 
peated d'Erfeuil, laughing vehemently, '^ such a notion 
never entered my head. My dear Nevil, if you will com- 
mit extravagances, let them be such as are not irreparable. 
In marriage one should consult nothing but convenience 
and decorum. You think me frivolous; nevertheless I'll 
bet you that my conduct shall be more rational than your 


own." — '^ I don't doubt it/' returned Nevil, without 
another word ; for how could he tell the Count that there 
is often much selfishness in frivolity? or that vanity 
never leads a man towards the error of sacrificing himself 
for another ? Triflers are very capable of cleverly direct- 
ing their own affairs ; for, in all that may be called the 
science of policy, in private as in public life, men oftener 
succeed by the absence of certain qualities than by any 
which they possess. t 

A deficiency of enthusiasm, opinions, and sensibility, is 
a negative treasure, on which, with but slight abihties, 
rank and fortune may easily be acquired or maintained. 
The jests of d'Erfeuil had pained Lord Nevil much : he 
condemned them, but still they haunted him most im- 



The next fortnight Oswald devoted exclusively to the so- 
ciety of Corinne. He never left his house but to visit 
her. He saw, he sought no more ; and, without speaking 
of his love, he made her sensible of it every hour in the 
day. She was accustomed to the lively and flattering tri- 
butes of the Italians ; but the lordly deportment and ap- 
parent coldness of Oswald, through which his tenderness 
of heart so often broke, in spite of himself, exercised a 
far greater power o'er her imagination. He never related 
a generous deed or a tale of misfortune, but his eyes filled, 
though he always strove to hide this weakness. It was 
long since she had felt such respect as that which he 
awakened. No genius, however distinguished, could have 
astonished her ; but elevation of character acted deeply on 
her mind. Oswald added to this an elegance which per- 
vaded the most trivial actions of his life, and contrasted 

48 corinne; on italy. 

strongly with the neghgent familiarity of the Roman no- 
bles. Although some of his tastes were uncongenial to 
her own, their mutual understanding was wonderful. They 
read each other's hearts in the lightest alteration of coun- 
tenance. Habituated to the most tempestuous demonstra- 
tions of passion, this proud retiring attachment continually 
proved, though never confessed, shed a new interest over 
her life. She felt as if surrounded by a purer, sweeter at- 
mosphere ; and every moment brought with it a sense of 
happiness in which she revelled, without seeking to define. 
One morning Prince Castel Forte came to her, evidently 
dispirited. She asked the cause. "^ This Scot," sighed he, 
" is weaning your affection from us, and who knows but 
he may even carry you far hence ? " Corinne was mute for 
some moments, and then replied, " I protest to you he has 
never said he loves me." — '' You know it, nevertheless : 
he speaks to you by his life, and his very silence is but an 
artful plan to attract your notice. What, indeed, can any 
one say to you that you have not already heard .? What 
kind of praise have you not been offered ? But there is 
something veiled and reined in about the character of Lord 
Nevil, which will never permit you to judge it wholly as 
you do ours. You are the most easily known person in 
the world ; but it is just because you voluntarily show 
yourself as you are, that reserve and mystery both please 
and govern you. The unknown, be it what it may, has a 
greater ascendency over you than all the professions which 
could be tendered by man." Corinne smiled. " You 
think then, dear Prince," she said, " that my heart is un- 
grateful, and my fancy capricious.? I believe, however, 
that Lord Nevil evinces quahties too remarkable for me 
to flatter myself as their discoverer." — *' I allow," rejoined 
Castel Forte, '^ that he is high minded, intelligent, even 
sensitive, and melancholy above all ; but I am much de- 
ceived if his pursuits have the least affinity with yours. 
You cannot perceive this, so thoroughly is he influenced 
by your pre^sence ; but your empire would not last were 
he absent from you. Obstacles would fatigue a mind 
warped by the griefs he has undergone, by discourage- 
ments which must have impaired the energy of his reso- 

corinne; or italy. 49 

lutions ; besides you know what slaves are the generality of 
English to the manners and habits of their country." These 
words recalled to the mind of Corinne the painful events of 
her early years. She sighed, and spoke not ; but in the 
evening she again beheld her lover, and all that remained 
as the effect of the Prince's counsel was a desire so to en- 
amour Nevil of tlie varied beauties with which Italy is 
blest, that he would make it his home for life. With this 
design she wrote him the following letter. The free Hfe 
led at Rome excused her, and, much as she might be re- 
proached with a too rash degree of candour, she well knew 
how to preserve a modest dignity, even in her most inde- 
pendent proceedings. 

" To Lord Nevil. 

" Dec. 15. 1794. 

"^ I know not, my Lord, if you will think me too self- 
confident, or if you can do justice to my motives. I heard 
you say that you had not yet explored Rome, that you 
knew nothing either of the chefs-d'ceuvres of our fine arts, 
or the antique ruins that teach us history by imagination 
and sentiment. I conceived the idea of daring to propose 
myself as your guide through the mazes of long-gone 
years. Doubtless Rome can boast of many men whose 
profound erudition might be far more useful; but if I 
succeed in endearing to you an abode towards which I 
have always felt so imperiously drawn, your own studies 
will complete what my imperfect sketches may begin. 

'' Many foreigners come hither, as they go to London or 
Paris, seeking but the dissipation of a great city ; and if 
it were not treason to confess themselves weary of Rome, 
I believe the greatest part of them would do so. But it is 
equally true, that here may be found a charm of which 
none could ever sate. Will you pardon me, my Lord, for 
wishing that this charm may be known to you ? It is true 
that you must first forget all the political relations of the 
world ; but when they are not linked with our sacred 
duties, they do but freeze the heart. It is necessary also 
to renounce what is elsewhere called the pleasures of 
society ; but do they not too frequently wither up the 
mind ? One tastes in Rome a life at once secluded and 


enlivened, which Hberally matures in our breasts whatever 
heaven hath planted there. 

" Once more, my Lord_, pardon this love for my country_, 
which makes me long to know it beloved by a man like 
yourself; and do not judge with English severity the 
pledges of good will that an Italian believes it her right to 
bestoWj without losing any thing in her own eyes or in 
yours. " CoRiNNE." 

In vain would Oswald have concealed from himself his 
ecstasy at receiving this letter : it opened to him gUmpses 
of a future all peace and joy, enthusiasm, love, and 
wisdom: — all that is most divine in the soul of man 
seemed blended in the enchanting project of exploring 
Rome with Corinne. He considered — he hesitated no more; 
but instantly started for her house, and, on his way, looked 
up to Heaven, basking in its rays, for life was no longer a 
burden. Regret and fear were lost behind the golden 
clouds of hope ; his heart, so long oppressed by sadness, 
throbbed and bounded with delight ; he knew that such 
a state could not last ; but even his sense of its fleetness 
lent this fever of felicity but a more active force. 

'^ You are come ! " cried Corinne, as he entered. '^ Ah, 
thank you ! " She offered him her hand : he pressed it to 
his lips, with a tenderness unqualified by that afflicting 
tremor which so often mingled with his happiness, and em- 
bittered the presence of those he loved the most. An 
intimacy had commenced between them since they had last 
parted, established by the letter of Corinne ; both were 
content, and felt towards one another the sweetest gratitude. 
" This morning, then," said Corinne, " I will show you 
the Pantheon and St. Peter's. I trusted," she added, 
smilingly, " that you would not refuse to make the tour of 
Rome with me ; so my horses are ready. I expected you 
— yOu are here — aU is well — let us go." — " Wondrous 
creature ! "exclaimed Oswald. " Who then are you.'' Whence 
do you derive charms so contrasted, that each might well 
exclude the others ? — feeling, gaiety, depth, wildness, 
modesty ! Art thou an illusion ? an unearthly blessing 
for those who meet thee V — " Ah ! if I have but power to 


do you any service," she answered, '^ believe not that I will 
ever renounce it." — " Take heed," replied he, seizing her 
hand with emotion ; " be careful of what benefit you confer 
on me. For two years an iron grasp has pressed upon my 
heart. If I feel some rehef while breathing your sweet air, 
what will become of me when thrown back on mine own 
fate } What shall I be then } " — " Let us leave that to time 
and chance," interrupted Corinne : "they will decide whether 
the impression of an hour shall last beyond its day. If our 
souls commune, our mutual affection will not be fugitive : 
be that as it may, let us admire together all that can elevate 
our minds; we shall thus, at least, secure some happy 
moments." So saying, she descended. Nevil followed 
her, astonished at her reply : it seemed that she admitted 
the possibility of a momentary liking for him, yet he 
fancied that he perceived a fickleness in her manner, 
which piqued him even to pain ; and Corinne, as if she 
guessed this, said, when they were seated in her carriage, 
" I do not think the heart is so constituted that it must 
dther feel ho love at all, or the most unconquerable passion. 
There are early symptoms which may vanish before self- 
examination. We flatter, we deceive ourselves ; and the 
very enthusiasm of which we are susceptible, if it renders 
the enchantment more rapid, may also bring the re-action 
more promptly." — " You have reflected much upon this 
sentiment, madame," observed Oswald, with bitterness. 
Corinne blushed, and was silent for some moments, then 
said, with a striking union of frankness and dignity, 
" I suppose no woman of heart ever reached the age of 
twenty-six without having known the illusions of love; but 
if never to have been happy, never to have met an object 
worthy of her full affection, is a claim on sympathy, I have 
a right to yours." The words, the accent of Corinne, 
somewhat dispersed the clouds that gathered over Nevil's 
dioughts ; yet he said to himself, " She is a most seducing 
creature, but — an Italian. This is not a shrinking, innocent 
heart, even to itself unknown, such as, I doubt not, beats 
in the bosom of the English girl to whom my father des- 
tined me." 

Lucy Edgarmond was the daughter of his parent's best 
E 2 


friend ; but too young, when he left England, for hini to 
marry her, or even foresee what she might one day be- 


Oswald and Corinne went first to the Pantheon, now called 
Santa Maria of the Rotunda. Throughout I taly the Catholic 
hath been the Pagan's heir ; but this is the only antique temple 
in Rome which has been preserved entire ; the only one 
wherein we may behold, unimpaired, the architecture of the 
ancients, and the peculiar character of their worship. 

Here they paused to admire the portico and its sup- 
porting columns. Corinne bade Oswald observe that this 
building was constructed in such a manner as made it 
appear much larger than it was. ^' St. Peter's," she said, 
'' produces an opposite effect : you will, at first, think it 
less vast than it is in reality. The deception, so favourable 
to the Pantheon, proceeds, it is conceived, from the great 
space between the pillars, and from the air playing so 
freely within ; but still more from the absence of ornament, 
with which St. Peter's is overcharged. Even thus did 
antique poetry design but the massive features of a theme, 
leaving the reader's fancy to supply the detail : in all affairs 
we moderns say and do too much. This fane was con- 
secrated by Agrippa, the favourite of Augustus, to his 
friend, or rather, his master; who, however, had the 
humility to refuse this dedication; and Agrippa was 
reduced to the necessity of devoting it to all the gods of 
Olympus, and of substituting their power for that of one j 
earthly idol. On the top of the Pantheon stood a car, in which 
were placed the statues of Augustus and Agrippa. On 
each side of the portico similar effigies were displayed, in 
other attitudes ; and over the front of the temple is still 
legible, * Consecrated by Agrippa.' Augustus gave his 
name to the age in which he lived, by rendering it an era 

* In the original Lucile Edgermond ; but as neither of these names are 
English, and the latter capable of a very ignoble pronunciation, I have taken 
the liberty to alter both. — Tb. 


in the progress of human intellect. From the chefs- 
d'oeuvres of" his contemporaries emanated the rays that 
formed a circling halo round his brow. He knew how to 
honour men of letters in his own day ; and posterity, 
therefore, honours him. Let us enter the temple : it is 
said that the light which streams in from above was con- 
sidered the emblem of a divinity superior to the highest 
divinities. The heathens ever loved symbolical images : 
our language, indeed, seems to accord better with religion 
than with common parlance. The rain often falls on the 
marbles of this court ; but the sunshine succeeds to efface 
it. "What a serene yet festal air is here ! The Pagans 
deified hfe, as the Christians sanctify death ; such is the 
distinction between the two faiths ; but Catholicism here is 
far less gloomy than in the north, as you will observe 
when we visit St. Peter's. In the sanctuary of the 
Pantheon the busts of our most celebrated artists decorate 
the niches once fiUed by ideal gods. Since the empire of 
the Cajsars, we have scarce ever boasted any political inde- 
pendence; consequently, you will find no statesmen, no 
heroes here. Genius constitutes our only fame ; but do 
you not think, my Lord, that a people who thus revere the 
talents still left amongst them must deserve a nobler 
destiny?" — " I beheve," rephed Oswald, " that nations 
generally deserve their own fates, be they what they will." 
— ^' That is severe ! but, perhaps, by living in Italy, your 
heart may soften towards the fair land which nature has 
adorned like a victim for sacrifice. At least remember, 
that the dearest hope the lovers of glory cherish is that of 
obtaining a place here. I have already chosen mine," she 
added, pointing to a niche still vacant. '' Oswald, who 
knows but you may one day return to this spot, when my 
bust — " — " Hold !" interrupted he ; ^' can you, resplend- 
ent in youth and beauty, talk thus to one whom mis- 
fortune even now is bending towards the grave } " — " Ah ! " 
exclaimed Corinne, " the storm may in a moment dash 
down flowers that yet shall raise their heads again. Oswald, 
dear Oswald! why are you not bappy?"— " Never ask 
me," he replied ; " you have your secrets, and I mine : 
let us respect our mutual silence. You know not what I 
E 3 


should suffer if forced to relate my distresses." Corinne 
said no more; but her steps, as she left the temple_, became 
slow, and her looks more pensiVe. 

She paused beneath the portico. " There/' she said, 
'' stood a porphyry urn of great beauty, now removed to 
St. John Lateran : it contained the ashes of Agrippa," 
which were deposited at the foot of the statue he had 
erected to himself. The ancients lavished such art on 
sweetening the idea of destruction, that they succeeded in 
banishing all its most dreary and alarming traits. There 
was such magnificence in their tombs, that the contrast 
between the nothingness of death and the splendours of 
life was less felt. It is certain, too, that the hope of an- 
other world was far less vivid amongst them than it is 
with Christians. They were obliged to contest with death, 
the principle which we fearlessly confide to the bosom of 
our eternal Father." 

Oswald sighed, and spoke not: melancholy ideas have 
many charms, when we are not deeply miserable ; but, 
while grief, in all its cruelty, reigns over the breast, we can- 
not hear without a shudder words which, of old, excited 
but reveries not more sad than soothing. 


In going to St. Peter's, they crossed the bridge of St. Angelo 
on foot. " It was here," said Oswald, " that, on my way from 
the Capitol, I, for the first time, mused long on Corinne." 
— " I do not flatter myself," she rejoined, " that I owe a 
friend to my coronation ; yet, in toiling for celebrity, I 
have ever wished that it might make me beloved : were it 
not useless, at least to a woman, without such expectation.?*" 
— " Lotus stay here awhile," said Oswald. " Can by-gone 
centuries afford me one remembrance equal to that of the 
day on which I beheld you first ? " — " I may err," answered 
Corinne, " but I think persons become most endeared to 
each other while participating in the admiration of works 
which speak to the soul by their true grandeur. Those of 


Rome are neither cold nor mute ; conceived as they were 
by genius, and hallowed hy memorable events. Nay, per- 
haps, Oswald, one could not better learn to love a man like 
yourself than by enjoying with him the noble beauties of 
the universe." — " But I," returned Oswald, " while gazing, 
listening beside you, need the presence of no other wonder." 
Corinne thanked him by a gracious smile. Pausing before 
the castle of St. Angelo, she pursued : '^ This is one of the 
most original exteriors among all our edifices : the tomb 
of Adrian, fortified by the Goths, bearing a double cha- 
racter from its successive uses. Built for the dead, an im- 
penetrable circle enclosed it ; yet the living have added 
more hostile defences, which contrast strongly with the 
silent and noble inutility of a funeral monument. You 
see, at the top, the bronze figure of an angel with a naked 
sword (5) ; within are prisons, framed for ingenious tor- 
ture. All the epochs of Roman history, from the days of 
Adrian to our own, are associated with this site. Belisarius 
defended it against the Goths ; and, with a barbarism 
scarce inferior to their own, hurled on them the beauteous 
statues that adorned the interior. Crescentius, Arnault de 
Brescia, and Nicolas Rienzi (6), those friends of Roman 
liberty, who so oft mistook her memories for her hopes, 
long defied their foes from this imperial tomb. 1 love each 
stone connected with so many glorious feats. I applaud 
the master of the world's luxurious taste — a magnificent 
tomb. There is something great in the man who, while 
possessing all the pomps and pleasures of the world, fears 
not to employ his mind so long in preparations for his 
death. Moral ideas and disinterested sentiments must fill 
the soul that, in any way, outsteps the boundaries of life. 
Thus far ought the pillars in front of St. Peter's to extend ; 
such was the superb plan of Michael Angelo, which he 
trusted his survivors would complete ; but the men of our 
day think not of posterity. When once enthusiasm has 
been turned into ridicule, all is defeated, except wealth and 
power." — '' It is for you to regenerate it," cried Nevil. 
^' Who ever experienced such happiness as I now taste ? 
Rome shown me by you ! interpreted by imagination and 
genius ! What a world when animated by sentiment, without 
E 4 



which the world itself were but a desert ! (7) Ah, 
Corinne ! what is to follow these the sweetest days that my 
fate and heart e'er granted me?" — "^ All sincere affections 
come direct from Heaven," she answered, meekly. ^^ Why, 
Oswald, should it not protect what it inspires ? It is for 
Heaven to dispose of lis both." 

At last they beheld St. Peter's ; the greatest edifice 
ever erected by man : even the Egyptian Pyramids are its 
inferiors in height. ^' Perhaps," said Corinne, '^ I ought 
to have shown you the grandest of our temples last ; but 
that is not my system. It appears to me that, to perfect 
a sense of the fine arts, one should begin by contemplating 
the objects which awaken the deepest and most lively ad- 
miration. This, once felt, reveals a new sphere of thought, 
and renders us capable of loving and judging whatever 
may, even in an humbler quality, revive the first impres- 
sion we received. All cautious and mystified attempts at 
producing a strong effect are against my taste. We do 
not arrive at the sublime by degrees, for infinite distances 
separate it even from the beautiful." 

Oswald felt the most extraordinary sensations when 
standing in front of St. Peter's. It was the first time the 
effort of man had affected him like a marvel of nature. 
It is the only work of art on the face of the globe that pos- 
sesses the same species of majesty which characterises 
those of creation. Corinne enjoyed his astonishment. 
*^ I have selected," she said, '^ a day when the sun is in 
all his splendour ; still reserving for you a yet more holy 
rapture, that of beholding St. Peter's by moonhght ; but I 
wished you first to be present at this most brilliant spec- 
tacle — the genius of man bedecked in the magnificence of 

The square of St. Peter's is surrounded by piUars, which 
appear light from a distance, but massive as you draw 
nearer : the sloping ascent towards the porch adds to the 
effect produced. An obelisk, of eighty feet in height, 
which looks scarce raised above the earth, in presence of 
the cupola, stands in the centre. The mere form of an 
obelisk is pleasing to the fancy : it loses itself in air, as if 
guiding the thoughts of man towards heaven. This was 

cobinne; or italy. 57 

brought from Egypt to adorn the baths of Caligula, and 
afterwards removed by Sixtus V. to the foot of St. Peter's, 
beside which this contemporary of many ages creates not 
one sentiment of awe. Man feels himself so perishable 
that he bows before the presence of immutability. At 
some distance, on each side of the obelisk, are two foun- 
tains, whose waters, perpetually gushing upwards^ fall 
again in abundant cascades. Their murmurs, such as we 
are wont to hear in wild and rural scenes, lend a strange 
charm to this spot, yet one that harmonises with the still- 
ing influence of that august cathedral. Painting and sculp- 
ture, whether representing the human form, or other 
natural objects, awaken clear and intelligible images ; but 
a perfect piece of architecture kindles that aimless reverie, 
which bears the soul we know not whither. The ripple of 
water well accords with this vague deep sense : it is uni- 
form, as the edifice is regular. ' Eternal motion and eternal 
rest* seem here united, defying even time, who has no 
more sullied the source of those pure springs than shaken 
the base of that commanding temple. These sheaves of 
liquid silver dash themselves into spray so fine, that on 
sunny days the light will form them into little rainbows, 
tinted with all the iris hues of the prism. '^ Stop here a 
moment," said Corinne to Nevil, who was already beneath 
the portico : " pause, ere you unveil the sanctuary : does 
not your heart throb as you approach it, as if anticipating 
some solemn event ? " She raised the curtain, and held it 
back for Nevil to pass, with such a grace that his first look 
was on her, and for some seconds he could observe nothing 
else ; yet he entered the interior, and soon beneath its im- 
mense arches was filled by a piety so profound that love 
alone no longer sufficed to occupy his breast. He walked 
slowly beside Corinne ; both were mute : there every thing 
commands silence ; for the least sound is re-echoed so far, 
that no discourse seems worthy to be thus repeated, in such 
an almost eternal abode. Even prayer, the accent of dis- 
tress, springing from whatever feeWe voice, reverberates 
deeply through its vastness ; and when we hear, from far, 
the trembling steps of age, on the fair marble, watered by 
80 many tears, man becomes imposing from the very in- 


firmities that subject his divine spirit to so much of woe ; 
and we feel that ('hristianity, the creed of sufferings con- 
tains the true secret which should direct our pilgrimage on 
earth. Corinne broke on the meditations of Oswald, say- 
ings " You must have remarked that the Gothic churches 
of England and Germany have a far more gloomy cha- 
racter than this. Northern Catholicism has in it some- 
thing mystic ; ours speaks to the imagination by external 
objects. Michael Angelo^ on beholding this dome from 
the Pantheon, exclaimed, ^ I have built it in the air ! ' — 
indeed St. Peter's is as a temple based upon a church ; its 
interior weds the ancient and modern faiths in the mind : 
I frequently wander hither to regain the composure my 
spirit sometimes loses. The sight of such a building is 
like a ceaseless, changeless melody, here awaiting to con- 
sole all who seek it; and, among our national claims to 
glory, let me rank the courage, patience, and disinterested- 
ness of the chiefs of our church, who have, for so many 
years, devoted such treasures to the completion of an edi- 
fice which its founders could not expect to enjoy. (8) It is 
rendering a service to the moral public, bestowing on a 
nation a monument emblematic of such noble and gener- 
ous desires." — '' Yes," replied Oswald, " here art is grand, 
and genius inventive ; but how is the real dignity of man 
sustained.'' How weak are the generality of Italian go- 
vernments, yet how do they enslave ! " — " Other nations," 
interrupted Corinne, ^' have borne the ypke, like our- 
selves, and without like power to conceive a better fate, 

* Servi siam si, ma servi ognor frernenti-' 

' We are slaves, indeed, but for ever chafing beneath our 
bonds,' said Alfieri, the boldest of our modern writers. 
With such soul for the fine arts, may not our character 
one day equal our genius } But look at these statues on 
the tombs, these mosaics, — laborious and faithful copies 
from the chefs-d'ceuvres of our great masters. I never ex- 
amine St. Peter's in detail, because I am grieved to find 
that its multiplied adornments so,mewhat impair the beauty 
of the whole. Yet well may the best works of human 
hands seem superfluous here. This is a world of itself ; 


a refuge from both heat and cold : it hath a season of its 
own, perennial spring, which the atmosphere without can 
never affect. * A subterranean church is built beneath : 
the popes, and many foreign princes, are buried there — 
Christme, who abdicated her realm ; the Stuarts, whose 
dynasty was overthrown. Rome, so long an asylum for 
the exile, is she not herself dethroned ? Her aspect con- 
soles sovereigns despoiled like her. Yes, cities fall, whole 
empires disappear, and man becomes unworthy of his 
name. Stand here, Nevil ! near the altar, beneath the cen- 
tre of the dome, you perceive, through these iron gratings, 
the church of the dead, which lies beneath our feet, and, 
on raising your eyes, they can scarcely pierce to the sum- 
mit of this arch : do you not feel as if a huge abyss was 
Qpening over your head ? Every thing which extends be- 
yond a certain proportion must cause that limited creature 
man uncontrollable dismay. What we know is as inex^ 
plicable as the unknown : we have so reconciled ourselves 
to habitual darkness, that any new mystery alarms and 
confounds us. 

" The whole church is embellished by antique marbles, 
who know more than we do of vanished centuries. There 
is the statue of Jupiter converted into St. Peter, by the glory 
which has been set upon its head. The general expres- 
sion of the place perfectly characterises a mixture of ob- 
scure dogmas and sumptuous ceremonies ; a mine of sad 
ideas, but such as may be soothingly applied ; severe doc- 
trines, capable of mild interpretation : — Christian theology 
and Pagan images ; in fact, the most admirable union of all 
the majestic splendours which man can give to his worship 
of the Divinity. Tombs decked by the arts can scarcely 
represent death as a formidable enemy : we do not, indeed, 
like the ancients, carve sports and dances on the sarco- 
phagus ; but thought is diverted from the bier by works 
that tell of immortality even from the aitar of death. 
Thus animated, we feel not that freezing silence which 
constantly watches over a northern sepulchre." — " It is, 
doubtless, the purpose with us," said Oswald, " to sur- 
round death with appropriate gloom : ere we were en- 


lightened by Christianity, such was our mythologic bias. 
Ossian called around the tomb funereal chants, such a* 
here you would fain forget. I know not if I should wish 
that your fair sky may so far change my mood." 

"^ Yet think not," said Corinne, " that we are either 
fickle or frivolous ; we have too little vanity : indolence 
may yield our lives some intervals of oblivion, biit they 
can neither sate nor wither up the heart: unfortunately 
we are often scared from this repose by passions more 
terrible than those of habitually active minds." They 
were now at the door. '' One more glance ! " said Nevil. 
" See how insignificant is man in the presence of devotion, 
while we shrink even before its material emblem : behold 
what duration man can give to his achievements, while his 
own date is so brief that he soon survives but in his fame. 
This temple is an image of infinitude ; there are no bounds 
for the sentiments to which it gives birth ; the hosts of 
past and future years it suggests for speculation. On leav- 
ing it we seem quitting a world of heavenly thought for 
one of common interests ; exchanging religion and eternity 
for the trivial pursuits of time." 

Corinne pointed out the has reliefs, from Ovid's Meta- 
morphoses, on the doors. " We shame not," she said, 
^' in the Pagan trophies which art has hallowed. The 
wonders of genius always awaken holy feehngs in the 
soul, and we pay homage to Christianity in tribute of all 
the best works that other faiths have inspired." Oswald 
smiled at this explanation. ^' Believe me^ my Lord," con- 
tinued Corinne, " there is much sincerity among people of 
lively fancy. To-morrow, if you like, I will take you to 
the Capitol, and I trust 1 have many such days in store for 
you; but — when they are over — must you depart?" 
She checked herself, fearing that she had said too much. 
^^ No, Corinne," cried Oswald, " I cannot renounce this 
gleam of bliss, which my guardian angel seems to shower 
on me from above." 



The next day Oswald and Corinne set forth with more 
confidence and cahnness. They were friends, and began 
to say we. Ah, how affecting is that we, pronounced by 
love ! What a timid, yet ardent confession does it breathe. 
" We go to the Capitol, then ? " said Corinne. — " Yes, we 
will!" repHed Oswald, and his voice told all in those 
simple words ; so full of gentle tenderness was his accent. 
*' From the top of the Capitol, such as it is now," said 
Corirme, " we can clearly see the Seven Hills ; we will go 
over them all in succession ; there is not one but teems 
with historical recollections." They took what was formerly 
called the sacred or triumphant road. — " Your car passed 
this way," said Oswald. " It did," answered Corinne : 
" such venerable dust might have wondered at my pre- 
sumption ; but since the Roman republic, so many a guilty 
track hath been imprinted on this road, that the respect 
it once demanded is decreased." She led him to the 
stairs of the present Capitol ; the entrance to the original 
one was by the Forum. " I wish," she said, '^ that these 
steps were the same which Scipio ascended ; when, re- 
pulsing calumny by glorious deeds, he went to offer thanks 
in the temple for the victories he had won ; but the new 
staircase and Capitol were built on the ruins of the old, 
to receive the peaceful magistrate who now monopolises 
the high sounding title of Roman senator, which once 
extorted reverence from the whole imiverse. We have 
but names here now. Yet their classic euphony always 
creates a thrill of mingled pleasure and regret. I asked 
a poor woman, whom I met the other day, where she lived. 
* On the Tarpeian Rock,' she answered. These words, 
stripped as they are of all that once attached to them, still 
exert some power over the fancy." They stopped to ob- 
serve the two basaltic lions at the foot of the stairs. (9) 
They came from Egypt, whose sculptors much more 
faithfully transmitted the forms of animals than that of 
man. The physiognomy of these lions has all the stem 



tranquillity^ the strength in repose^ which we find described 
by Dante. 

*' A Quisa di leon — quando si posa." 
Not far from thence is a mutilated Roman statue, 
which the moderns have placed there, unconscious that 
they thus display a striking symbol of Rome as it is. 
This figure has neither head nor feet; but the trunk and 
drapery that remain have still the beauty of antiquity. 
At the top of the stairs are two colossal statues, thought to 
represent Castor and Pollux ; then come the trophies of 
Marius ; then the two columns which served to measure 
the Roman empire ; lastly, the statue of Marcus Aure- 
lius, calm and beautiful amid contending memories. Thus 
the heroic age is personated by these colossal shapes, the 
republic by the lions, the civil wars by Marius, and the 
imperial day by Aurehus. 

To the right and left of the modern Capitol two 
churches have been erected, on the ruins of temples to 
Jupiter Feretrius and Capitolinus. In front of the vesti- 
bule is a fountain, over which the geniuses of the Tiber and 
the Nile are represented as presiding, as does the she-wolf 
of Romulus. The name of the Tiber is never pronounced 
like that of an inglorious stream ; it is a proud pleasure 
for a Roman but to say, '' Come to the Tiber's banks ! Let 
us cross the Tiber ! " In breathing such words he seems 
to invoke the spirit of history, and re-animate the dead. 

Going to the Capitol by the way of the Forum, you 
find, to your right, the Mamertine prisons, constructed by 
Ancus Martius for ordinary criminals ; but excavated by 
Servius TulHus into far more cruel dungeons for state 
culprits ; as if they merit not most mercy, who err from 
a zealous fidelity to what they believe their duty. Jugur- 
tha, and the friends of Catiline, perished in these cells ; 
it is even said that St. Peter and St. Paul were confined 
there. On the other side of the Capitol is the Tarpeian 
Rock, at the foot of which now stands the Hospital of Con- 
solation, as if the severe spirit of antiquity, and the sweet 
one of Christianity, defying time, here met, as visibly to 
the eye as to the mind. When Oswald and Corinne had 
gained the top of the Capitol, she showed him the Seven 



Hills, and the city, bounded first by Mount Palatinus, then 
by the walls of Servius Tullius, which enclose the hills, 
and by those of Aurelian, which still surround the greatest 
part of Rome. Corinne repeated verses of Tibullus and 
Propertius, that glorify the weak commencement of what 
became the mistress of the world. (10) Mount Palatinus 
once contained all Rome ; but soon did the imperial palace 
fill the space that had sufficed for a nation. A poet of 
Nero's day made this epigram : — 

" Roma domus fiet. Veios migrate, Quirites ; 
Si non et Veios occupatista domus." 

' Rome will soon be but one house. Go to Veios, citizens ! 
if you can be sure that this house will not include even 
Veios itself.' The Seven Hills are far less lofty now than 
when they deserved the title of steep mountains ; modem 
Rome being forty feet higher than its predecessor, and 
the valleys which separated them almost filled up by ruins ; 
but what is still more strange, two heaps of shattered 
vases have formed new hills, Cestario and Testacio. Thus, 
in time, the very refuse of civilisation levels the rock 
with the plain, effacing, in the moral as in the material 
world, all the pleasing inequahties of nature. 

Three other hills, Janiculum, Vaticanus, and Mario, 
not comprised in the famous Seven, give so picturesque an 
air to Rome, and afford such magnificent views from her 
interior, as perhaps no other city can command. There 
is so remarkable a mixture of ruins and new buildings, of 
fair fields and desert wastes, that one may contemplate 
Rome on all sides, and ever find fresh beauties'. 

Oswald could not weary of feasting his gaze from the 
elevated point to which Corinne had led him. The study 
of history can never act on us like the sight of that scene 
itself. The eye reigns all powerfully over the soul. He 
now believed in the old Romans, as if he had lived amongst 
them. Mental recollections are acquired by reading ; those 
of imagination are born of more immediate impressions, 
such as give life to thought, and seem to render us the 
witnesses of what we learn. Doubtless we are annoyed 
by the modern dwellings which intrude on these wrecks, 
yet a portico beside some humble roof, columns between 


which the little windows of a church peep out, or a tomb 
that serves for the abode of a rustic family, so blendS 
the grand with the simple, and affords us so many agree- 
able discoveries, as to keep up continual interest. Every 
thing is common-place and prosaic in the generality of 
European towms ; and Rome, more frequently than any 
other, presents the sad aspect of misery and degradation ; 
but all at once some broken column, or half- effaced bas- 
relief, or a few stones bound together by indestructible 
cement, will remind you that there is in man an eternal 
power, a divine spark, which he ought never to weary of fan- 
ning in his ov^rn breast, and reluming in those of others. The 
Forum, whose narrow enclosure has been the scene of so 
many wondrous events, is a striking proof of man's moral 
greatness. ^\^hen, in the latter days of Rome, the world 
was subjected to inglorious rulers, centuries passed from 
which history could scarce extract a single feat. This 
Forum, the heart of a circumscribed town, whose natives 
fought around it against the invaders of its territories, — 
this Forum, by the recollections it retraces, has been the 
theme of genius in every age. Eternal honours to the 
brave and free, who thus vanquish even the hearts of 
posterity ! 

Corinne observed to Nevil that there were but few ves- 
tiges left of the republic, or of the regal day which pre- 
ceded it. The aqueducts and subterranean canals are the 
only luxuries remaining, while of aught more useful we 
have but a few tombs and brick temples. Not till after 
the fall of Sicily did the Romans adopt the use of marble ; 
but it is enough to survey the spots on which great actions 
have been performed : we experience that indefinite emo- 
tion to which we may attribute the pious zeal of pilgrims. 
Celebrated countries of all kinds, even when despoiled of 
their great men and great works, exert a power over the 
imagination. That which would once have attracted the 
eye exists no more; but the charm of memory still 

The Forum now retains no trace of that famed tribund 
whence the people were ruled by the force of eloquence. 
There still exist three pillars of a temple to Jupiter To- 


nans, raised by Augustus, because a thunderbolt had 
fallen near him there, without injury. There is, too, the 
triumphal arch erected by the senate to requite the ex- 
ploits of Septimus Severus. The names of his two sons, 
Caracalla and Geta, were inscribed on its front ; but as 
Caracalla assassinated his brother, his name was erased : 
some marks of the letters are yet visible. Further off is a 
temple to Faustina, a monument of the weakness of Mar- 
cus Aurelius. A temple to Venus, which, in the repub- 
lican era, was consecrated to Pallas, and, at a little dis- 
tance, the relics of another, dedicated to the sun and 
moon, by the emperor Adrian, who was so jealous of the 
Greek architect ApoUodorus, that he put him to death for 
censuring its proportion. On the other side are seen the 
remains of buildings devoted to higher and purer aims. 
The columns of one believed to be that of Jupiter Stator, 
forbidding the Romans ever to fly before their enemies — 
the last pillar of the temple to Jupiter Gustos, placed, it 
is said, near the gulf into which Curtius threw himself, — 
and some belonging either to the Temple of Concord or 
to that of Victory. Perhaps this resistless people con- 
founded the two ideas, believing that they could only 
attain true peace by subduing the universe. At the ex- 
tremity of Mount Palatinus stands an arch celebrating 
Titus's conquest of Jerusalem. It is asserted that no Jews 
will ever pass beneath it ; and the little path they take 
to avoid it is pointed out. We will hope, for the credit of 
the Jews, that this anecdote is true ; such enduring recol- 
lections well become the long suffering. Not far from 
hence is the arch of Constantine, embellished by some bas- 
rdiefs, taken from the Forum, in the time of Trajan, by 
the Christians, who resolved thus to deck the monument 
of the Founder of Peace. The arts, at this period, were 
already on the wane, and thefts from the past deified new 

The triumphal gates still seen in Rome perpetuated, as 
much as man could do, the respect paid to glory. There 
were places for musicians at their summits ; so that the 
hero, as he passed, might be intoxicated at once by me- 


lody and praise, tasting, at the same moment, all that can 
exalt the spirit. 

In front of these arches are the ruins of the Temple to 
Peace built by Vespasian. It was so adorned by bronze 
and gold within, that when it was consumed by fire, 
streams of fused metal ran even to the Forum. Finally, 
the Coliseum, loveliest ruin of Rome ! terminates the cir- 
cle in which all the epochs of history seem collected for 
comparison. Those stones, now bereft of marble and of 
gilding, once formed the arena in which the gladiators 
contended with ferocious beasts. Thus were the Romans 
amused and duped, by strong excitements, while their 
natural feelings were denied due power. There were two 
entrances to the Coliseum ; the one devoted to the con- 
querors, the other that through which they carried the 
dead. ^' Sana vivaria, sandapilaria." Strange scorn of 
humanity ! to decide beforehand the life or death of man, 
for mere pastime. Titus, the best of emperors, dedicated 
the Coliseum to the Roman people ; and its very ruins 
bear so admirable a stamp of genius, that one is tempted 
to deceive one's self on the nature of true greatness, and 
grant to the triumphs of art the praise which is due but to 
spectacles that tell of generous institutions. Oswald's 
enthusiasm equalled not that of Corinne, while beholding 
these four galleries, rising one above the other, in proud 
decay, inspiring at once respect and tenderness : he saw 
but the luxury of rulers, the blood of slaves, and was 
almost prejudiced against the arts, for thus lavishing their 
gifts, indiflferent as to the purposes to which they were 
applied. Corinne attempted to combat this mood. " Do 
not," she said, " let your principles of justice interfere 
with a contemplation like this. I have told you that these 
objects would rather remind you of Italian taste and ele- 
gance than of Roman virtue ; but do you not trace some 
moral grandeur in the gigantic splendour that succeeded 
it ? The very degradation of the Romans is imposing : 
while mourning for Uberty they strewed the earth with 
wonders ; and ideal beauty sought to solace man for the 
real dignity he had lost. Look on these immense baths, 
open to all who wished to taste of oriental voluptuousness ; 

corinne; or italy. 6? 

these circles, wherein elephants once battled with tigers, 
these aqueducts, which could instantaneously convert the 
areas into lakes, where galleys raced in their turn, or cro- 
codiles filled the space just occupied by lions. Such was 
the luxury of the Romans, when luxury was their pride. 
These obelisks, brought from Egypt, torn from the 
African's shade to decorate the sepulchres of Romans! 
Can aU this be considered useless, as the pomp of Asiatic 
despots ? No, you behold the genius of Rome, the victor of 
the world, attired by the arts ! There is something super- 
human and poetical in this magnificence, which makes one 
forget both its origin and its aim." 

The eloquence of Corinne excited without convincing 
Oswald. He sought a moral sentiment in all things, and 
the magic of art could never satisfy him without it. Co- 
rinne now recollected that, in this same arena, the perse- 
cuted Christians had fallen victims to their constancy : 
she pointed out the altars erected to their ashes, and the 
path towards the cross which the penitents trod beneath 
the ruins of mundane greatness : she asked him if the 
dust of martyrs said nothing to his heart. " Yes," he 
cried, '^ deeply do I revere the power of soul and will 
over distress and death : a sacrifice, be it what it may, is 
more arduous, more commendable than all the efforts of 
genius. Exalted imagination may work miracles ; but it 
is only when we immolate self to principle that we are 
truly virtuous. Then alone does a celestial power sub- 
due the mortal in our breasts." These pure and noble 
words disturbed Corinne : she gazed on Nevil, then cast 
down her eyes ; and though at the same moment he took 
her hand, and pressed it to his heart, she trembled to think 
that such a man might devote himself or others to despair, 
in his adherence to the opinions or duties of which he 
might make choice. 


Corinne and Nevil employed two days in wandering over 
the Seven Hills. The Romans formerly held a fete in 

F 2 


their honour : it is one of Rome's original beauties to be 
thus embraced, and patriotism naturally loved to celebrate 
such a peculiarity. Oswald and Corinne having already 
viewed the Capitoline Hill, recommenced their course at 
Mount Palatinus. The palace of the Caesars, called the 
Golden Palace, once occupied it entirely. Augustus, 
Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, built its four sides ; a heap 
of stones, overgrown with shrubs, is all that now remains. 
Nature reclaimed her empire over the works of man ; and 
her fair flowers atone for the fall of a palace. In the 
regal and republican eras, grandly as towered their public 
buildings, private houses were extremely small and simple. 
Cicero, Hortensius, and the Gracchii, dwelt on this emi- 
nence, which hardly sufficed, in the decline of Rome, for 
the abode of a single man. In the latter ages the nation 
was but a nameless mass, designated solely by the eras of 
its masters. The laurels of war and that of the arts culti- 
vated by peace, which were planted at the gate of Augustus, 
have both disappeared. Some of Livia's baths are left. 
You are shown the places wherein were set the precious 
stones, then lavished on walls or ceilings, and paintings 
of which the colours are still fresh : their delicacy ren- 
dering this yet more surprising. If it be true that Livia 
caused the death of Augustus, it was in one of these 
chambers that the outrage must have been conceived. 
How often may his gaze have been arrested by these pic- 
tures, whose tasteful garlands still survive ^ The master 
of the world betrayed in his nearest affections ! what 
thought his old age of life and its vain pomps ? Did he 
reflect on his glory, or its victims ? Hoped he or feared 
a future world ? Might not the last thought, which re- 
veals all to man, stray back to these halls, the scenes of his 
past power? (11) 

Mount Aventinus affords more traces of Rome's early 
day than any of its sister hills. Exactly facing the palace 
constructed by Tiberius is seen a wreck of the Temple to 
Liberty, built by the father of the Gracchii ; and at the 
foot of this ascent stood that dedicated to the Fortune of 
Men, by Servius Tullius, to thank the gods that, though 
born a slave, he had become a king. Without the walls 


of Rome another edifice rose to the Fortune of Women, 
commemorating the influence exerted by Veturia over 

Opposite to Mount Aventinus is Mount Janiculum^ on 
which Porsenna marshalled his army. It was in front of 
this hill that Horatius Codes cut away the bridge, which 
led to Rome : its foundations still exist. On the banks of 
the stream was built a brick arch, simple as the action it 
recalled was great. In the midst of the Tiber floated an 
island formed of the wheat sheaves gathered from the 
fields of Tarquin ; the Romans forbearing to use them, in 
the belief that they were charged with evil fate. It would 
be difficult, in our own day, to call down on any treasure 
a curse of sufficient efficacy to scare men from its partici- 

On Mount Aventinus were temples both to patrician 
and plebeian chastity : at the foot of the hill the Temple of 
Vesta still remains, almost entire, though the inundations 
of the Tiber have often threatened to destroy it. Not far 
thence are vestiges of a prison for debt, where the well 
known instance of filial piety is said to have occurred; here, 
too, Cloelia and her companions were confined by Porsenna, 
and swam across the river to rejoin the Romans. Mount 
Aventinus indemnifies the mind for all the painful recol- 
lections the other hills awake ; and its aspect is as beauteous 
as its memories are sweet. The banks at its foot were 
tolled the Lovely Strand (pulchrum littus). Thither the 
orators of Rome walked from the Forum : there Csesar and 
Pompey met like simple citizens, and sought to conciliate 
Cicero, whose independent eloquence was of more weight 
than even the power of their armies. Poetry also has em- 
bellished this spot : it was there that Virgil placed the cave 
of Cacus ; and Rome, so great in history, is still greater 
by the heroic fictions with which her fabulous origin has 
been decked. In returning from Mount Aventinus, you 
(Bee the house of Nicolas Rienzi, who vainly strove to restore 
the spirit of antiquity in modern days. 

Mount Coelius is remarkable for the remains of a pre- 
torian encampment, and that of the foreign troops: on the 
ruins of the latter was found an inscription, — *' To the 
F 3 


Holy Genius of the Foreign Camp." Holy^ indeed, to those 
whose power it sustained ! What is left of these barracks 
proves that they were built like cloisters ; or_, rather, that 
cloisters were formed after their model. 

Esquilinus was called the " Poet's Hill ; " Maecenas, 
Horace, Propertius, and Tibullus, having all houses there. 
Near this are the ruins of the baths of Trajan and Titus. 
It is believed that Raphael copied his arabesques from the 
frescoes of the latter : here, too, was the Laocoon discovered. 
The freshness of water is so acceptable in fervid cUmes, 
that their natives love to collect all that can pamper the 
senses in the chambers where they bathe. Thus, by the 
light of lamps, did the Romans gaze on the chefs^'ceuvres 
of painting and sculpture; for it appears from the con- 
struction of these buildings that day never entered them : 
they were sheltered from the noontide rays, so piercing 
here as fully to deserve the title of Apollo's darts. Yet 
the extreme precautions taken by the ancients might in- 
duce a supposition that the climate was more burning then 
than now. In the baths of Caracalla were the Farnese 
Hercules, the Flora, and the group of Circe. Near Ostia, 
in the baths of Nero, was found the Apollo Belvidere. Can 
we look on that noble figure and conceive Nero destitute 
of all generous sentiments ? 

The baths and circuses are the only places of public 
amusement that have left their vestige. Though the ruins 
of Marcellus' theatre still exist, Pliny relates that 360 
marble pillars, and 3000 statues, were placed in a theatre 
incapable of lasting many days. The Romans, however, 
soon built, with a solidity that defied the earthquake's 
shock : too soon they wasted like pains on edifices which 
they destroyed themselves when the fetes held in them were 
concluded ; thus, in every sense, sported they with time. 
They had not the Grecian's mania for dramatic represent- 
ations : the fine arts then flourished at Rome only in the 
works of Greece ; and Roman grandeur consisted rather in 
colossal architecture than in efforts of imagination. The 
gigantic wonders thus produced bore a very dignified stamp, 
no longer of liberty, but that of power still. The districts 
devoted to the public baths were called provinces, and united 


all the varied establishments to be found in a whole country. 
The great circus so nearly touched the imperial palace, that 
Nero, from his window, could give a signal for the com- 
mencement of the games. This circus was large enough 
to contain 300,000 people. Almost the whole nation might 
be amused at the same moment ; and these immense fes- 
tivals might be considered as popular institutions, which 
assembled for mere pleasure those who formerly united 
for glory. Mounts Quirinalis and Viminalis are so near 
each other that it is not easy to distinguish them apart. 
There stood the houses of Sallust and of Pompey. There, 
too, in the present day, does the pope reside. One cannot 
take a single step in Rome without contrasting its present 
and its past. But one learns to view the events of one's 
own time the more calmly for noting the eternal fluctuations 
that mark the history of man ; and one feels ashamed to 
repine, in the presence, as it were, of so many centuries, 
who have all overthrown the achievements of their prede- 
cessors. Around, and on the Seven HiUs, are seen a mul- 
titude of spires and obelisks, the columns of Trajan and 
of Antoninus, the tower of Conti, whence, it is said, Nero 
overlooked the conflagration of Rome, and the dome of St. 
Peter's lording it over the highest. The air seems peopled 
by these heaven-aspiring fanes, as if an aerial city soared 
majestic above that of the earth. In re-entering Rome, 
Corinne led Oswald beneath the portico of the tender and 
suffering Octavia ; they then crossed the road along which 
the infamous Tullia drove over the body of her father : 
they beheld, in the distance, the temple raised by Agrip- 
pina in honour of Claudius, whom she had caused to be 
poisoned ; finally, they passed the tomb of Augustus, the 
enclosure around which now serves as an arena for animal 

" I have led you rapidly," said Corinne, " over a few 
foot-prints of ancient history ; but you can appreciate the 
pleasure which may be found in researches at once sage and 
poetic, addressing the fancy as well as the reason. There 
are many distinguished men in Rome whose sole occupation 
is that of discovering new links between our ruins and our 
history." — " 1 know no study which could interest me 


more/' replied Nevil, " if I felt my mind sufficiently com- 
posed for it. Such erudition is far more animated than 
that we acquire from books : we seem to revive what w« 
unveil ; and the past appears to rise from the dust which 
concealed it." — " Doubtless/' said Corinne, '' this passion 
for antiquity is no idle prejudice. We Uve in an age when 
self-interest seems the ruling principle of all men: what 
sympathy, what enthusiasm, can ever be its result } Is it 
not sweeter to dream over the days of self-devotion and 
heroic sacrifice, which might once have existed, nay, of 
which the earth still bears such honourable traces } " 


CoRiNNE secretly flattered herself that she had captivated 
the heart of Oswald ; yet, knowing his severe reserve, dared 
not fully betray the interest he inspired, prompt as she 
was by nature to confess her feelings. Perhaps she even 
thought that while speaking on subjects foreign to their 
love, the very voice might disclose their mutual affection \ 
a silent avowal be expressed in their looks, or in that veiled 
and melancholy language which so deeply penetrates the soul. 
One morning, while she was preparing to continue 
their researches, she received from him an almost cere- 
monious note, saying that indisposition would confine 
him to his house for some days. A sad disquietude seized 
the heart of Corinne : at first she feared that he was dan- 
gerously iU ; but Count d'Erfeuil, who called in the evening, 
informed her that it was but one of those nervous attacks 
to which Nevil was so subject, and during which he 
would converse with nobody. " He won't even see me !" 
added the Count. The words displeased Corinne ; but she 
took care to hide her anger from its object, as he alone 
could bring her tidings of his friend. She, therefore, con- 
tinued to question him, trusting that a person so giddy, at 
least in appearance, would tell her all he knew. But 
whether he wished to hide, beneath an air of mystery, the 
fact that Nevil had confided nothing, or whether he be- 
lieved it more honourable to thwart her wishes than to 


grant them, he met her ardent curiosity by imperturbable 
silence. She, who had always gained such an ascendency 
over those with whom she spoke, could not understand why 
her persuasive powers shoiUd fail with him. She did not 
know that self-love is the most inflexible quality in the 
world. Where Was then her resource for learning what 
passed in the heart of Oswald ? Should she write to him ? 
A letter requires such caution ; and the loveliest attribute 
of her nature was its impulsive sincerity. Three days 
passed, and still he came not. She suffered the most cruel 
agitation. " What have I done," she thought, " to dis- 
sever him from me ? I have not committed the error so 
formidable in England, so pardonable in Italy ; I never 
told him that I loved. Even if he guesses it, why should 
he esteem me the less ? " Oswald avoided Corinne merely 
because he but too strongly felt the power of her charms. 
Although he had not given his word to marry Lucy Ed- 
garmond, he knew that such had been his father's wish, 
and desired to conform with it. Corinne was not known 
by her real name : she had for many years led a life far 
too independent for him to hope that an union with her 
would have obtained the approbation of his parent, and he 
felt that it was not by such a step he could expiate his 
early offences. He purposed to leave Rome, and write 
Corinne an explanation of the motives which enforced such 
resolution ; but not feeling strength for this, he limited 
his exertions to a forbearance from visiting her ; and this 
sacrifice soon appeared the most painful of the two. 

Corinne was struck by the idea that she should see him 
no more, that he w^ould fly without bidding her adieu. 
She expected every instant to hear of his departure ; and 
terror so aggravated her sensations, that the vulture talons 
of passion seized at once on her heart ; and its peace, its 
liberty, crouched beneath them. Unable to rest in the 
house where Oswald came not, she wandered in the gar- 
dens of Rome, hoping to meet him ; she had at least some 
chance of seeing him, and best supported the hours during 
which she trusted to this expectation. 

Her ardent fancy, the source of her talents, was unhap- 
pily blended with such natural feeling, that it now con- 


stituted her wretchedness. The evening of the fourth 
day's absence the moon shone clearly over Rome, which, 
in the silence of night, looks lovely, as if it were inhabited 
but by the spirits of the great. Corinne, on her way from 
the house of a female friend, left her carriage, and, op- 
pressed with grief, seated herself beside the fount of Trevi, 
whose abundant cascade falls in the centre of Rome, and 
seems the hfe of that tranquil scene. Whenever its flow 
is suspended all appears stagnation. In other cities it is 
the roll of carriages that the ear requires, in Rome it is 
the murmur of this immense fountain, which seems the in- 
dispensable accompaniment of the dreamy hfe led there. 
Its water is so pure, that it has for many ages been named 
the Virgin Spring. The form of Corinne was now reflected 
on its surface. Oswald, who had paused there at the 
same moment, beheld the enchanting countenance of his 
love thus mirrored in the wave : at first it affected him so 
strangely that he beUeved himself gazing on her phantom, 
as his imagination had often conjured up that of his father : 
he leaned forward, in order to see it more plainly, and his 
own features appeared beside those of Corinne. She re- 
cognised them, shrieked, rushed towards him, and seized 
his arm, as if she feared he would again escape ; but 
scarcely had she yielded to this too impetuous impulse, 
ere, remembering the character of Lord Nevil, she blushed, 
her hand dropped, and with the other she covered her face 
to hide her tears. 

" Corinne ! dear Corinne ! " he cried, " has then my 
absence pained you.>" — "Yes," she replied, "you must 
have known it would. Why then inflict such pangs on 
me.^ Have I deserved to suffer thus for you?" — "No, 
no," he answered; "but if I cannot deem myself free, — 
if my heart be filled by regret and fear, why should I in- 
volve you in its tortures ? Why ?" — " It is too late to ask," 
interrupted Corinne ; " grief is already in my breast ; 
bear with me!" — " Grief!" repeated Oswald; " in the 
midst of so brilliant a career, with so lively a genius I" 
— " Hold," she said, " you know me not. Of all my 
faculties, the most powerful is that of suffering. I was 
formed for happiness; my nature is confiding and ani- 


mated ; but sorrow excites me to a degree that threatens my 
reason, nay, my life. Be careful of me ! My gay versa- 
tility serves me but in appearance : within my soul is an 
abyss of despair, which I can only avoid by preserving 
myself from love." Corinne spoke with an expression 
which vividly affected Oswald. " I will come to you to- 
morrow, rely on it, Corinne," he said. " Swear it ! " she 
exclaimed, with an eagerness which she strove in vain to 
disguise. ^' I do," he answered, and departed. 




The next day Oswald and Corinne met in great embar- 
rassment. She could no longer depend on the love she had 
inspired. He was dissatisfied with himself, and felt his 
own weakness rebel against the tyranny of his sentiments. 
Both sought to avoid the subject of their mutual aflfection. 
" To-day," said Corinne, " I propose a somewhat solemn 
excursion, but one which will be sure to interest you : let us 
visit the last asylums of those who lived among the edifices 
we have seen in ruins." — '^ You have guessed what would 
most suit my present disposition," said Oswald, in so sad 
a tone, that she dared not speak again for some moments ; 
tlien gaining courage from her desire to soothe and enter- 
tain him, she added, " You know, my Lord, that among the 
ancients, far from the sight of tombs discouraging the 
living, they were placed in the high road, to kindle emul- 
ation : the young were thus constantly reminded of the 
illustrious dead, who seemed silently to bid them imitate 
their glories." — "Ah!" sighed Oswald, " how I envy 
those whose regrets are unstained by remorse." — " Talk 
you of remorse ? " she cried ; " then it is but one virtue 
the more, the scruples of a heart whose exalted delicacy — " 
He interrupted her. " Corinne ! Corinne ! do not ap- 



proach that theme : in your hlest land gloomy thoughts are 
exhaled by the brightness of heaven ; but with us grief 
buries itself in the depths of the soul, and shatters its 
strength for ever." — " You do me injustice/' she replied. 
" I have told you that, capable as I am of enjoyment, I 
should suffer more than you, if — " she paused, and changed 
the subject ; continuing, " My only wish, my Lord, is to 
divert your mind for awhile. I ask no more." The meek- 
ness of this reply touched Oswald's heart ; and, as he 
marked the melancholy beauty of those eyes usually so full 
of fire, he reproached himself with having thus depressed 
a spirit so framed for sweet and joyous impressions : he 
would fain have restored them ; but Corinne's uncertainty 
of his intentions, as to his stay or departure, entirely dis- 
ordered her accustomed serenity. 

She led him through the gates to the old Appian Way, 
whose traces are marked in the heart of the country by 
ruins on the right and left, for many miles beyond the 
walls. The Romans did not permit the dead to be buried 
within the city. None but the emperors were there in- 
terred, except one citizen named Publius Biblius, who was 
thus recompensed for his humble virtues ; such as, indeed, 
his contemporaries were most inclined to honour. 

To reach the Appian Way you leave Rome by the gate 
of St. Sebastian, formerly called the Capena Gate. The 
first tombs you then find, Cicero assures us, are those of 
Metellus, of Scipio, and Servilius. The tomb of the Scipio 
family was found here, and afterwards removed to the 
Vatican. It is almost sacrilege to displace such ashes. 
Imagination is more nearly allied to morality than is be- 
lieved, and ought not to be offended. Among so many 
tombs names must be strewn at random : there is no way 
of deciding to which such or such title belongs ; but this 
very uncertainty prevents our looking on any of them with 
indifference. It was in such that the peasants made their 
homes ; for the Romans consecrated quite space enough to 
the urns of their illustrious fellow-citizens. They had not 
that principle of utility which, for the sake of cultivating a 
few feet of ground the more, lays waste the vast domain of 
feeling and of thought. At some tlistance from the Ap- 

cobinne; or italy. 77 

pian Way is a temple raised by the republic to Plonour and 
to Virtue ; another to the god who caused the return of 
Hannibal. There, too, is the fountain of Egeria ; where 
in solitude Numa conversed with Conscience, the divinity 
of the good. No monument of guilt invades the repose of 
these great beings : the earth around is sacred to the me- 
mory of worth. The noblest thoughts may reign there 
undisturbed. The aspect of the country near Rome is re- 
markably peculiar : it is but a desert, as boasting neither 
trees nor houses ; but the ground is covered with wild 
shrubs ceaselessly renewed by energetic vegetation. The 
parasitic tribes creep round the tombs, and decorate the 
ruins, as if in honour of their dead. Proud nature, con- 
scious that no Cincinnatus now guides the plough that 
furrows her breast, there repulses the care of man, and 
produces plants which she permits not to serve the living. 
These uncultivated plains may, indeed, displease those 
who speculate on the earth's capacity for supplying human 
wants ; but the pensive mind, more occupied by thoughts 
of death than of life, loves to contemplate the Campagna, 
on which present time has imprinted no trace : it cherishes 
the dead, and fondly covers them with useless flowers, that 
bask beneath the sun, but never aspire above the ashes 
which they appear to caress. Oswald admitted that in such 
a scene a calm might be regained that could be enjoyed no 
where beside. The soul is there less wounded by images 
of sorrow ; it seems to partake with those now no more 
the charm of that air, that sunlight, and that verdure. 
Corinne drew some hope from observing the effect thus 
taken on him : she wished not to efface the just regret owed 
to the loss of his father ; but regret itself is capable of 
sweets, with which we should try to familiarise those wIk) 
have tasted but its bitterness, for that is the only blessing 
we can confer on them. 

" Let us rest," said Corinne, " before this tomb, which 
remains almost entire : it is not that of a celebrated man^ 
but of a young girl, Cecilia Metella, to whom her father 
raised it." — " Happy the children," sighed Oswald, ''who 
die on the bosom that gave them life ; for them even death 
must lose its sting." — " Ay," replied Corinne, with emotion. 


** happy those who are not orphans. But look ! arms are 
sculptured here : the daughters of heroes had a right to 
bear the trophies of their sires : fair union of innocence 
and valour! There is an elegy, by Propertius, which, 
better than any other writing of antiquity, describes the 
dignity of woman among the Romans ; a dignity more 
pure and more commanding than even that which she en- 
joyed during the age of chivalry. Cornelia, dying in her 
youth, addresses to her husband a consolatory farewell, 
whose every word breathes her tender respect for all that 
is sacred in the ties of nature. The noble pride of a 
blameless life is well depicted in the majestic Latin ; in 
poetry august and severe as the masters of the world. 
' Yes,' says Corneha, ' no stain has sullied my career, 
from the hour when Hymen's torch was kindled, even to that 
which lights my funeral pyre. I have lived spotless 
between two flames.' (12) What an admirable expression ! 
what a sublime image ! How enviable the woman who 
preserves this perfect unity in her fate, and carries but one 
remembrance to the grave ! That were enough for one life." 
As she ceased, her eyes filled with tears. A cruel sus- 
picion seized the heart of Oswald. " Corinne," he cried, 
'' has your delicate mind aught with which to reproach 
you? If I could offer you myself, should I not have 
rivals in the past ? Could I pride in my choice ? Might 
not jealousy disturb my delight?" — " I am free," replied 
Corinne, " and love you as I never loved before. What 
would you have ? Must I confess, that, ere I knew you, 
I might have deceived myself as to the interest with 
which others inspired me ? Is there no divinity in man's 
heart for the errors which, beneath such illusion, might have 
been committed?" A modest glow overspread her face. 
Oswald shuddered, but was silent. There was such timid 
penitence in the looks of Corinne, that he could not 
rigorously judge one whom a ray from heaven seemed de- 
scending to absolve. He pressed her hand to his heart, 
and knelt before her, without uttering a promise, indeed, 
but with a glance of love which left her all to hope. " Let 
us form no plan for years to come," she said : ^' the hap- 
piest hours of life are those benevolently granted us by 

corinne; or italy. 79 

chance: it is not here, in the midst of tombs, that we 
should trust much to the future." — '^ No," cried Nevil; 
" I believe in no future that can part us ; four days of 
absence have but too well convinced me that I now exist 
but for you." Corinne made no reply, but religiously 
hoarded these precious words in her heart : she always 
feared, in prolonging a conversation on the only subject of 
her thoughts, lest Oswald should declare his intentions 
before a longer habit of being with her rendered separation 
impossible. She often designedly directed his attention to 
exterior objects, like the sultana in the Arabian tales, who 
sought by a thousand varied stories to captivate her beloved, 
and defer his decision of her fate, till certain that her wit 
must prove victorious. 


Not far from the Appian Way is seen the Columba- 
rium, where slaves are buried with their lords; where 
the same tomb contains all who dwelt beneath the protection 
of one master or mistress. The women devoted to the care 
of Livia's beauty, who contended with time for the pre- 
servation of her charms, are placed in small urns beside 
her. The noble and ignoble there repose in equal silence. 
At a little distance is the field wherein vestals, unfaithful 
to their vows, were interred alive ; a singular example of 
fanaticism in a religion naturally so tolerant. 

" I shall not take you to the catacombs," said Corinne, 
'^ though, by a strange chance, they lie beneath the Appian 
Way, tombs upon tombs ! But that asylum of persecuted 
Christians is so gloomy and terrible, that I cannot resolve 
to revisit it. It has not the touching melancholy which 
one breathes in open wilds : it is a dungeon near a sepulchre 
— the tortures of existence beside the horrors of death. 
Doubtless one must admire men who, by the mere force of 
enthusiasm, could support that subterranean life — for ever 
banished from the sun ; but the soul is too ill at ease in 
such a scene to be benefited by it. Man is a part of 
creation, and finds his own moral harmony in that of the 


universe : in the habitual order of fate^ violent exceptions 
may astonish, but they create too much terror to be of 
service. Let us rather seek the pyramid of Cestius_, around 
which all Protestants who die here find charitable graves." 
— '^ Yes," returned Obwald, " many a countryman of 
mine is amongst them. Let us go there : in one sense 
at least, perhaps, I shall never leave you." Corinne's hand 
trembled on his arm. He continued, " Yet I am much 
better since I have known you." Her countenance resumed 
its wonted air of tender joy. 

Cestius presided over the Roman sports. His name is 
not found in history, but rendered famous by his tomb. 
The massive pyramid that enclosed him defends his death 
from the oblivion which has utterly effaced his hfe. Aurehan, 
fearing that this pyramid would be used but as a fortress 
from whence to attack the city, had it surrounded by walls 
which still exist, not as useless ruins, but as the actual 
boundaries of modern Rome. It is said that pyramids 
were formed in imitation of the flames that rose from 
funeral pyres. Certainly their mysterious shape attracts 
the eye, and gives a picturesque character to all the views 
of which they constitute a part. 

In front of this pyramid is Mount Testacio, beneath 
which are several cool grottos, where fetes are held in the 
summer. If, at a distance, the revellers see pines and 
cypresses shading their smiling land, and recaUing a solemn 
consciousness of death, this contrast produces the same 
effect with the lines which Horace has written in the 
midst of verses teeming with earthly enjoyment: — 

" Moriture Delli, 

« « « » 

Linquenda tellus, et domus, et placens 

' Dellius, remember thou must die — leaving the world, 
thy home, and gentle wife.' The ancients acknowledged 
this in their very voluptuousness : even love and festivity 
reminded them of it, and joy seemed heightened by a sense 
of its brevity. 

Oswald and Corinne returned by the side of the Tiber ; 
formerly covered with vessels, and banked by palaces. Of 
yore, even its inundations were regarded as omens. It was 


then the prophetic, the tutelar divinity of Rome. (13) It 
may now be said to flow among phantoms, so livid is its 
hue — so deep its loneliness. The finest statues and other 
works of art were thrown into the Tiber, and are hidden 
beneath its tides. Who knows but that, in search of them, 
the river may at last be driven from its bed ? But, while 
we muse oit efforts of human genius that lie, perhaps, 
beneath us, and that some eye, more piercing than our own, 
may yet see through these waves, we feel that awe which, 
in Rome, is constantly reviving in various forms, and 
giving the mind companions in those physical objects which 
are elsewhere dumb. 


Raphaei^. said that modern Rome was almost entirely 
built from the ruins of the ancient city ; Pliny had talked of 
the " eternal walls," which are still seen amid the works 
of latter times. Nearly all the buildings bear the stamp 
of history, teaching you to compare the physiognomies of 
different ages. From the days of the Etruscans (a people 
senior to the Romans themselves, resembling the Egyptians 
in the solidity and eccentricity of their designs), down to 
the time of Bernini, an artist as guilty of mannerism as 
were the Italian poets 'of the seventeenth century, one may 
trace the progress of the human mind, in the characters of 
the arts, the buildings, and ruins. The middle ages and 
the brilliant day of the de Medici, re-appearing in their 
works, it is but to study the past in the present — to pene- 
trate the secrets of all time. It is believed that Rome had 
formerly a mystic name, known but to few. The city has 
still spells, into which we require initiation. It is not 
simply an assemblage of dwellings ; it is a chronicle of the 
world, represented by figurative emblems. Corinne agreed 
with Nevil, that they would now explore modern Rome, 
reserving for another opportunity its admirable collection 
of pictures and of statues. Perhaps, without confessing it 
to herself, she wished to defer these sights as long as 


possible : for who has ever left Rome without looking on 
the Apollo Belvidere and the paintings of Raphael ? This 
security, weak as it was^ that Oswald would not yet depart, 
was every thing to her. Where is their pride, some may 
ask, who would retain those they love by any other motive 
than that of affection ? I know not : but, the more we love, 
the less we rely on our own power ; and, whatever be the 
cause which secures us the presence of the object dear to 
us, it is accepted with gratitude. There is often much 
vanity in a certain species of pride ; and if women as 
generally admired as Corinne have one real advantage, it is 
the right to exult rather in what they feel than in what 
they inspire. 

Corinne and Nevil recommenced their excursions, by 
visiting the most remarkable among the numerous churches 
of Rome. They are all adorned by magnificent antiquities ; 
but these festal ornaments, torn from Pagan temples, 
have here a strange, wild effect. Granite and por- 
phyry pillars are so plentiful, that they are lavished as if 
almost valueless. At St. John Lateran, famed for the 
councils that have been held in it, so great is the quantity 
of marble columns, that many of them are covered with 
cement, to form pilasters ; thus indifferent has this pro- 
fusion of riches rendered its possessors. Some of these 
pillars belonged to the Tomb of Adrian, others to the 
Capitol ; some still bear the forms of the geese which pre- 
served the Romans ; others have Gothic and even Arab- 
esque embelHshments. The urn of Agrippa contains the 
ashes of a pope. The dead of one generation give place 
to the dead of another, and tombs here as often change 
their occupants as the abodes of the living. Near St. John 
Lateran are the holy stairs, brought, it is said, from Je- 
rusalem, and which no one ascends but on his knees ; as 
Claudius, and even Caesar, mounted those which led to the 
temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. Beside St. John's is the 
font where Constantino is supposed to have been baptized. 
In the centre of this ground is an obelisk, perhaps the 
most ancient work of art in the world — contemporary with 
the Trojan war; so respected, even by the barbarous 
Gambysesj that he put a stop to the conflagration of a city 


in its honour ; and, for its sake, a king pledged the life of 
his only son. The Romans brought it from the heart of 
Egypt by miracle. They turned the Nile from his course 
that it might be found, and carried to the sea. This 
obelisk is still covered with hieroglyphics, which have kept 
their secret for centuries, and defy the sages of to-day to 
decipher signs that might reveal the annals of India 
and of Egypt — the antiquities of antiquity ! The won- 
drous charm of Rome consists not only in the real beauty 
of her monuments, but in the interest they excite; the ma, 
terial for thinking they suggest ; the speculations which 
grow, every day, the stronger from each new study. 

One of the most singular churches in Rome is St. Paul's: 
its exterior is that of an ill-built barn ; yet it is bedecked 
within by eighty pillars of such exquisite material and pro- 
portion, that they are believed to have been transported 
from an Athenian temple, described by Pausanias. If 
Cicero said, in his day, ^ we are surrounded by vestiges of 
history,' what would he say now ? Columns, statues, and 
pictures are so prodigally crowded in the churches of mo- 
dern Rome, that, in St. Agnes', bas-reliefs, turned face 
downwards, serve to pave a staircase, no one troubling 
himself to ascertain what they might represent. How 
astonishing a spectacle were ancient Rome, had its trea- 
sures been left where they were found ! The immortal city, 
nearly as it was of yore, were still before us: but could the 
men of our day dare to enter it ? The palaces of the Ro- 
man lords are vast in the extreme, and often display much 
architectural grace; but their interiors are rarely arranged" 
by good taste. They have none of those elegant apart- 
ments invented elsewhere for the perfect enjoyment of 
social Ufe. Superb galleries, hung with the chefs-d'oeuvre 
of the tenth Leo's age, are abandoned to the gaze of stran- 
gers, by their lazy proprietors, who retire to their own ob- 
scure little chambers, dead to the pomp of their ancestors, 
as were they to the austere virtues of the Roman repubhc. 
The country-houses give one a still greater idea of solitude, 
and of their owners' carelessness amid the loveliest scenes 
of nature. One walks immense gardens, doubting if they 
have a master ; the grass grows iti every p^th^, yet in theSr- 
G 2 


Tery alleys are the trees cut into shapes^ after the fantastic 
mode that once reigned in France. Strange inconsistency ! 
this neglect of essentials^ and affectation in what is useless ! 
Most Italian towns, indeed^ surprise us with this mania, 
i n a people who have constantly heneath their eyes such 
models of noble simplicity. They prefer glitter to con- 
venience ; and in every way betray the advantages and dis- 
advantages of not habitually mixing with society. Their 
luxury is rather that of fancy than of comfort. Isolated 
among themselves_, they dread not that spirit of ridicule, 
which, in truth, seldom penetrates the interior of Roman 
abodes. Contrasting this with what they appear from 
without, one might say that they were rather built to dazzle 
the peasantry than for the reception of friends. 

After having shown Oswald the churches and the pa- 
laces, Corinne led him to the Villa Melini, whose lonely 
garden is ornamented solely by majestic trees. From 
thence is seen afar the chain of the Apennines, tinted by the 
transparent air against which their outlines are defined 
most picturesquely. Oswald and Corinne rested for some 
time, to taste the charms of heaven and the tranquillity of 
nature. No one who has not dwelt in southern climes can 
form an idea of this stirless silence, unbroken by the light- 
est zephyr. The tenderest blades of herbage remain per- 
fectly motionless ; even the animals partake this noontide 
lassitude. You hear no hum of insects, no chirp of grass- 
hoppers, no song of birds ; nothing is agitated, all sleeps, 
till storm or passion waken that natural vehemence which 
impetuously rushes from this profound repose. The Ro- 
man garden possesses a great number of evergreens, that, 
during winter, add to the illusion which the mild air cre- 
ates. The tufted tops of pines, so close to each other that 
they form a kind of plain in the air, have a charming effect 
from any eminence ; trees of inferior stature are sheltered 
by this verdant arch. Only two palms are to be found in 
the Monks' Gardens : one is on a height ; it may be seen 
from some distance, always with pleasure. In returning 
towards the city, this image of a meridian more burning 
than that of Italy awakens a host of agreeable sensations. 
' Do you not find," said Corinne, " that nature here gives 

corinne; or italy. 85 

birth to reveries elsewhere unknown ? She is as intimate 
with the heart of man as if the Creator made her the in- 
terpretress between his creatures and himself." — " I feel 
all this/' replied Oswald ; " yet it may be but your melt- 
ing influence which renders me so susceptible. You reveal 
to me emotions which exterior objects may create. I hved 
but in my heart ; you have revived my imagination. But 
the magic of the universe^ which you teach me to appre- 
ciate, will never offer me aught loveUer than your looks, 
more touching than your voice." — ^' May the feeling I 
kindle in your breast to-day," said Corinne, " last as long 
as my hfe ; or, at least, may my life last no longer than 
your love!" They finished their tour of Rome by the 
Villa Borghese. In no Roman palace or garden are the 
splendours of nature and art collected so tastefully . Every 
kind of tree, superb waterfalls, with an incredible blending 
of statues, vases, and sarcophagi, here reanimate the my- 
thology of the land. Naiads recline beside the streams ; 
nymphs start from thickets worthy of such guests. Tombs 
repose beneath Elysian shades ; Esculapius stands in 
the centre of an island ; Venus appears gliding from a 
bower. Ovid and Virgil might wander here, and believe 
themselves still in the Augustan age. The great works 
of sculpture, which grace this scene, give it a charm for 
ever new. Through its trees may be descried the city, 
St. Peter's, the Campagna, and those long arcades, ruins of 
aqueducts, which formerly conducted many a mountain 
stream into old Rome. There is every thing that can 
mingle purity with pleasure, and promise perfect happiness: 
but if you ask why this delicious spot is not inhabited, you 
will be told, that the cattiva aria, or bad air, prevents its 
being occupied in summer. This enemy, each year, be- 
sieges Rome more and more closely — its most charming 
abodes are deserted perforce. Doubtless the want of 
trees is one cause ; and therefore did the Romans dedicate 
their woods to goddesses, that they might be respected by 
the people : yet have numberless forests been felled in our 
own times. What can now be so sanctified that avarice will 
forbear its devastation ? This malaria is the scourge of 
Rome, and often threatens its whole population ; yet, per- 
o 3 

86 cobinne; or italy. 

haps, it adds to the effect produced by the lovely gardens 
to be found within the boundaries. Its mahgnant power 
is betrayed by no external sign : you respire an air that 
seems pure ; the earth is fertile ; a delicious freshness atones 
in the evening for the heat of the day ; and all this is 
death ! " 

" I love such invisible danger," said Oswald, " veiled 
as it i.' in delight. If death, as I believe, be but a call to 
happier life, why should not the perfume of flowers, the 
shade of fine trees, and the breath of eve be charged to re- 
mind us of our fate ? Of course, government ought, in 
every way, to watch over human life; but nature has 
secrets which imagination only can penetrate ; and I easily 
conceive that neither natives nor foreigners find any thing 
to disgust them in the perils which belong to the sweetest 
seasons of the year." 





Oswald's irresolution, augmented by misfortunes, taught 
him to fear every irrevocable engagement. , He dared not 
ask Corinne her name or story, though his love for her 
grew each day more strong : he could not look on her 
without emotion ; hardly, in the midst of society, quit her 
side for an instant ; she said not a word he did not feel, 
nor expressed a sentiment, sad or gay, that was not reflected 
in his face. Yet, loving, admiring her as he did, he for- 
got not how little such a wife would accord with English 
habits ; how much she differed from the idea his father 
formed of the woman it would become him to marry : all 
he said to Corinne was restrained by the disquiet these re- 
flections caused him. She perceived this but too plainly ; 
yet so much would it have cost her to break with him, 
that she lent herself to whatever could prevent a decisive 
explanation ; and, never possessing much forethought, re- 

corinne; or italy. 57 

veiled in the present, such as it was, not dreaming of the 
inevitable future. She entirely secluded herself from the 
world in this devotion to him ; but, at last, hurt by his 
silence on their prospects, she resolved to accept a pressing 
invitation to a ball. Nothing is more common, in Rome, 
than for persons to leave and return to society by fits : 
there is so little gossip in Italy, that people do what they 
like, without comment, at least without obstacle, in affairs 
either of love or ambition. Foreigners are as safe as na- 
tives in this rendezvous of Europeans. When Nevil learnt 
that Corinne was going to a ball, he was out of humour ; 
for some time he had fancied that he detected in her a me- 
lancholy sympathetic with his own ; yet suddenly she 
appeared to think of nothing but dancing (in which 
she so much excelled), and the eclat of a fete. Corinne 
was not frivolous; but, feeling every day more subdued by 
love, she wished to combat its force. She knew by ex- 
perience that reflection and forbearance have less power 
over impassioned characters than dissipation ; and she 
thought that, if unable to triumph over herself as she ought, 
the next best step were to do so as she could. When Ne- 
vil censured her intentions, she replied, "■ I want to ascer- 
tain whether what formerly pleased can still amuse me, 
or whether my regard for you is to absorb every other in- 
terest of my life." — " You would fain cease to love me/' 
he said. " Not so," she replied ; " but it is only in do- 
mestic life that it can be agreeable to feel one's self lorded 
over by a single affection. To me, who need my wit and 
genius to sustain the reputation of the life I have adopted, 
it is a great misfortune to love as I love you." — ''You 
will not sacrifice your glory to me, then ? " cried Oswald. — 
" Of what importance were it to you," she replied, '' if I 
did } Since we are not destined for each other, I must not 
for ever destroy the kind of happiness with which I ought 
to content myself." Lord Nevil said nothing ; conscious 
that he could not now speak without explaining his de- 
signs ; and, in truth, he was ignorant of them himself. 
He sighed, and reluctantly followed Corinne to the ball. 
It was the first time, since his loss, that he had gone to 
such an assembly. Its tumult so oppressed him that he 

G 4> 


remained for some period in a hall beside the dancing- 
room, with his head reclined upon his hand ; not even 
wishing to see Corinne dance. All music, even if its oc- 
casion he a gay one, renders us pensive. The Count 
d'Erfeuil arrived, enchanted with the crowd and amuse- 
ments, which once more reminded him of France. " I 've 
done my best," he said, '^'to interest myself in their 
vaunted ruins, but I see nothing in them : 'tis a mere pre- 
judice, this fuss about rubbish covered with briars! I 
shall speak my mind when I return to France ; for it is 
high time that the farce should be ended. There is not a 
single building of to-day, in good repair, that is not worth 
all these trunks of pillars, and moiildy bas-reliefs, which 
can only be admired through the spectacles of pedantry. 
A rapture which one must purchase by study cannot be very 
vivid in itself. One needs not spoil one's complexion 
over musty books, to appreciate the sights of Paris." 

Lord Nevil was silent, and d'Erfeuil questioned him on 
his opinion of Rome. " A ball is not the best place for 
serious conversation," said Oswald ; ^' and you know that I 
can aiFord you no other." — ^'^ Mighty fine," replied the 
Count. ''1 own I am gayer than you; but who can say 
that I am not wiser too } Trust me, there is much phi- 
losophy in taking the world as it goes." — "^ Perhaps you 
are right," answered Oswald; "but, as you are what you 
are by nature, and not by reflection, your jnanner of living 
can belong to no one but yourself." 

D'Erfeuil now heard the name of Corinne from the ball- 
room, and went to learn what was doing there. Nevil fol- 
lowed him to the door, and saw the handsome Neapolitan 
Prince Amalfi soliciting her to dance the Tarantula with 
him. All her friends joined in this request. She waited 
for no importunity, but promised with a readiness which 
astonished d'Erfeuil, accustomed as he was to the refusals 
with which it is the fashion to precede consent. In Italy 
these airs are unknown : there, every one is simple enough 
to believe that he cannot better please society than by 
promptly fulfilling whatever it requires. Corinne woidd 
have introduced this natural manner, if she had not found 
it there. The dress she had assumed was light and elegant. 


Her locks were confined by a silken fillet^ and her eyes 
expressed an animation which rendered her more attractive 
than ever. Oswald was uneasy ; displeased with his own 
subjection to charms whose existence he was inclined to 
deplore, as, far from wishing to gratify him, it was almost 
in order to escape from his power that Corinne shone forth 
thus enchantingly : yet, who could resist her seducing 
grace ? Even in scorn she would have been still triumphant; 
but scorn was not in her disposition. She perceived her 
lover; and blushed, as she bestowed on him one of her 
sweetest smiles. The Prince Amalfi accompanied himself 
with castanets. Corinne saluted the assembly with both 
hands ; then, turning, took the tambourine, which her part- 
ner presented to her, and she beat time as she danced. 
Her gestures displayed that easy union of modesty and vo- 
luptuousness, such as must have so awed the Indians when 
the Bayarderes — poets of the dance — depicted the various 
passions by characteristic attitudes. Corinne was so well 
acquainted with antique painting and sculpture, that her 
positions were so many studies for the votaries of art. 
Now she held her tambourine above her head ; sometimes 
advanced it with one hand, while the other ran over its 
little bells with a dexterous rapidity that brought to mind 
the girls of Herculaneum. (14) This was not French 
dancing, remarkable for the difficulty of its steps ; it was a 
movement more allied to fancy and to sentiment. The air 
to which she danced, pleased alternately by its softness and 
its precision. Corinne as thoroughly infected the spectators 
with her own sensations as she did while extemporising 
poetry, playing on her lyre, or designing an expressive 
group. Every thing was language for her. The musicians, 
in gazing on her, felt all the genius of their art ; and every 
witness of this magic was electrified by impassioned joy, 
transported into an ideal world, there to dream of bliss 
unknown below. 

There is a part of the Neapolitan dance where the heroine 
kneels, while the hero marches round her, like a conqueror. 
How dignified looked Corinne at that moment ! What a 
sovereign she was on her knees ! and when she rose, clashing 
her airy tambourine, she appeared animated by such en- 

90 corinne; or italy. 

thusiasm of youthful beauty, that one might have thought 
she needed no life but her own to make her happy. Alas, 
it was not thus ! though Oswald feared it, and sighed, as 
if her every success separated her farther from him. When 
the Prince, in his turn, knelt to Corinne, she, if possible, 
surpassed herself. Twice or thrice she fled round him, 
her sandalled feet skimming the floor with the speed of 
lightning ; and when, shaking her tambourine above his 
head with one hand, she signed with the other for him to 
rise, every man present was tempted to prostrate himself 
before her, except Lord Nevil, who drew back some paces, 
and d'Erfeuil, who made a step or two forwards, in order 
to compliment Corinne. The Italians gave way to what 
they felt, without one fear of making themselves remark- 
able. They were not like men so accustomed to society, 
and the self-love which it excites, as to think on the effect 
they might produce : they are never to be turned from their 
pleasures by vanity, nor from their purposes by applause. 

Corinne, charmed with the result of her attempt, thanked 
her friends with amiable simplicity. She was satisfied, and 
permitted her content to be seen, with childlike candour; 
her greatest desire was to get through the crowd to the 
door, against which Oswald was leaning. She reached it 
at last, and paused for him to speak. — " Corinne," he 
said, endeavouring to conceal both his delight and his dis- 
tress, " you have extorted universal homage : but is there, 
among all your adorers, one brave, one trusty friend ; one 
protector for life ? or can the clamours of flattery suffice a 
soul like yours } " 


The press of company prevented Corinne's reply : they were 
going to supper ; and each cavaliere servente hastened to seat 
himself beside his lady. A fair stranger arrived and found 
no room ; yet not a man, save Oswald and d'Erfeuil, rose 
to offer her his place. Not that the Romans were either rude 
or selfish ; but they believed that their honour depended 


on their never quitting their post of duty. Some, unable to 
gain seats, leaned behind their mistresses' chairs, ready to 
obey the slightest sign. The females spoke but to their 
lovers: strangers wandered in vain around a circle where 
no one had a word to spare them; for Italian women are 
ignorant of that coquetry which renders a love aflPair no- 
thing more than the triumph of self-conceit ; they wish to 
please no eyes save those that are dear to them. The 
mind is never misled before the heart. The most abrupt 
commencements are often followed by sincere devotion, and 
even by lasting constancy. Infidelity is more censured in 
man than in woman. Three or four men, beneath different 
titles, may follow the same beauty, who takes them with 
her every where, sometimes without troubling herself to 
name them to the master of the house which receives the 
party. One is the favourite; another aspires to be so; a 
third calls him self the sufferer (ilpatito): though disdained, 
he is permitted to be of use ; and all these rivals live peace- 
ably together. It is only among the common people that 
you still hear of the stiletto ; but the whole country pre- 
sents a wild mixture of simpleness and of vice, dissimulation 
and truth, good-nature and revenge, strength and weakness; 
justifying the remark, that the best of these qualities may 
be found among those who will do nothing for vanity;. the 
worst among such as will do any thing for interest, whether 
the interest of love, of avarice, or ambition. Distinctions 
of rank are generally disregarded in Italy. It is not from 
stoicism, but from heedless familiarity, that men are here 
insensible to aristocratic prejudices: constituting themselves 
judges of no one, they admit every body. After supper 
they sat down to play ; some of the women at hazard, others 
chose silent whist ; and not a word was now uttered in the 
apartment, so noisy just before. The people of the South 
often run thus quickly from the extreme of agitation to that 
of repose : it is one of the peculiarities of their character, 
that indolence is succeeded by activity : indeed, in all re- 
spects they are the last men on whose merits or defects we 
ought to decide at first sight; so contrasted are the quali- 
ties they unite : the creature all prudence to-day may be 
all audacity to-morrow. They are often apathetic, from 

92 corinne; or italy. 

just having made^ or preparing to make^ some great exer- 
1 tion. In factj they waste not one energy of their minds on 
^ society, but hoard them till called forth by strong events. 
At this assembly many persons lost enormous sums, without 
the slightest change of countenance; yet the same beings 
could not have related a trivial anecdote without the most 
lively and expressive gesticulation. But when the passions 
have attained a certain degree of violence, they shrink from 
sight, and veil themselves in silence. 

Nevil could not surmount the bitter feelings this ball 
engendered : he believed that the Italians had weaned his 
love from him, at least for a time. He was very wretched; 
yet his pride prevented his evincing aught beyond a con- 
tempt for the tributes offered her. When asked to play 
he refused, as did Corinne, who beckoned him to sit beside 
her : he feared to compromise her name by passing a whole 
evening alone with her before the eyes of the world. " Be 
at ease on that head," she replied ; " no one thinks about 
us. Here no established etiquette exacts respect; a kindly 
politeness is all that is required ; no one wishes to annoy or 
to,be annoyed. 'Tis true that we have not here what in 
England is called liberty ; but our social independence is 
perfect." — " That is," said Oswald, '^ that no reverence 
is paid to appearances." — " At least, here is no hypocrisy," 
she answered. — ^^ Rochefoucault says, *^ The least among 
the defects of a woman of gallantry is that, of being one ;' 
but whatever be the faults of Italian women, deceit does 
not conceal them ; and if marriage vows are not held 
sufficiently sacred, they are broken by mutual consent." — 
'* It is not sincerity that causes this kind of frankness^" 
repUed Oswald, " but indifference to public opinion. I 
brought hither an introduction to a princess, and gave it to 
the servant I had hired here, who said to me, ' Ah, Sir, just 
now, this will do you no service, the princess sees no one ; 
she is innamorata.' Thus was the fact of a lady's being in 
love proclaimed like any other domestic affair. Nor is this 
publicity excused by fidelity to one passion : many attach- 
ments succeed each other, all equally well known. Women 
have so little mystery in these ties, that they speak of them 
with less embarrassment than our brides could talk of their 


husbands. It is not easy to believe that any deep or re- 
fined affection can exist with this shameless fickleness. 
Though nothing is thought of but love^ here can be no ro- 
mance : adventures are so rapid, and so open, that nothing 
is left to be developed ; and, justly to describe the general 
method of arranging these things, one ought to begin and 
end in the first chapter. Corinne, pardon me if I give you 
pain. You are an Italian ; that should disarm me : but one 
reason why you are thus incomparable is, that you unite the 
best characteristics of our different nations. I know not 
where you were educated, but you certainly cannot have 
passed all your life here: perhaps it was in England. Ah, 
if so, how could you leave that sanctuary of all that is 
modest, for a land where not only virtue, but love itself, 
is so little understood. It may be breathed in the air, but 
does it reach the heart ? The poetry, here, in which love 
plays so great a part, is full of brilliant pictures, indeed ; 
but where will you find the melancholy tenderness of our 
bards? What have you to compare with the parting of 
Jaffier and Belvidera, with Romeo and Juliet, or with the 
lines in Thomson's Spring depicting the happiness of 
wedded life ? Is there any such life in Italy ? and, without 
homefelt felicity, how can love exist ? Is not happiness 
the aim of the heart, as pleasure is that of the senses ? 
"Would not all young and lovely women be alike to us, did 
not mental qualities decide our preference .^ What, then, 
do these qualities teach us to crave ? an intercourse of 
thought and feeling, permanent and undivided ! This is 
what we mean by marriage. Illegitimate love, when, un- 
happily, it does occur among us, is still butjthe reflex'of 
marriage. The same comfort is sought abroad which 
cannot be found at home ; and even infidelity in England 
is more moral than Italian matrimony." 

This severity so afflicted Corinne that she rose, her 
eyes filled with tears, and hurried home. Oswald was in 
despair at having offended her ; but the irritation this ball 
had dealt him found a channel in the censure he had just 
pronounced. He followed her; but she would not see him. 
Next morning he made another attempt; but her door was 
still closed. This was out of character in Corinne ; but 


she was so dismayed by his opinion of her countrywomen, 
that she resolved, if possible, to conceal her affection from 
him for ever. Oswald, on his part, was confirmed by this 
unusual conduct in the discontent that unlucky fete had 
engendered ; he was excited to struggle against the senti- 
ment whose empire he dreaded. His principles were strict. 
Corinne's manners sometimes evinced a too universal 
wish to please : her conduct and carriage were noble and 
reserved ; but her opinions were over-indulgent. In fact, 
though dazzled and enervated, something still combated 
his weakness. Such a state often embitters our language ; 
we are displeased with ourselves and others ; we suffer so 
much, that we long to brave the worst at once, and, by open 
war, ascertain which of our two formidable emotions is to 
triumph. It was in this mood that he wrote to Corinne. 
He knew his letter was angry and unbecoming; yet a 
confusion of impulses urged him to send it. He was so 
miserable in his present situation, that he longed, at any 
price, for some change ; and was reckless how his doubts 
were answered, so that they came to a termination. A 
rumour brought him by Count d'Erfeuil, though he believed 
it not, contributed, perhaps, to render his style still more 
unkind. It was said that Corinne was about to marry 
Prince Amalfi. Oswald well knew that she did not love this 
man, and ought to have been sure that the report sprung 
merely from her having danced with him ^ but he per- 
suaded himself that she had received Amalfi when denied 
to him : therefore, though too proud to confess his personal 
jealousy, he vented it on the people in whose favour he knew 
her to be so prepossessed. 


« To Corinne. January 24. 1795. 

'' You refuse to see me ; you are offended by my last 
conversation, and no doubt intend henceforth to admit none 
but your countrymen, and thus expiate your recent devi- 
ation from that rule. Yet, far from repenting the sincerity 

corinne; or italy. 95 

with which I spoke to you, whom, perhaps chimerically, I 
would fain consider an Englishwoman, I will dare to say still 
more plainly, that you can preserve neither your own dignity 
nor your own peace, by choosing a husband from your pre- 
sent society. 1 know not one Italian who deserves you; \ 
not one who could honour you by his alliance, whatever I 
were the title he had to bestow. The men are far less 
estimable here than the women, to whose errors they add 
worse of their own. Would you persuade me that these 
sons of the South, who so carefully avoid all trouble, and 
live but for enjoyment, can be capable of love ? Did you 
not, last month, see at the Opera a man who had not eight 
days before lost a wife he was said to adore ? The me- 
mory of the dead, the thought of death itself, is here, as 
much as possible, thrown aside. Funeral ceremonies are 
performed by the priests, as the duties of love are fulfilled 
by cavalieres serventes. Custom has prescribed all rites 
beforehand : regret and enthusiasm are nothing. But 
what, above all, must be destructive to love, is the fact, that 
your men cannot be respected : women give them no credit 
for submission, because they found them originally weak, 
and destitute of all serious employment. It is requisite, 
for the perfection of natural and social order, that men 
should protect, and women be protected ; but by guardians 
adoring the weakness they defend, and worshipping the 
gentle divinity which, Uke the Penates of the ancients, calls 
down good fortune on the house. Here one might almost 
say that woman is the sultan, and men her seraglio : it is 
they who have most pliancy and softness. An Italian 
proverb says, ^ Who knows not how to feign, knows not 
how to live.' Is not that a feminine maxim } but where 
you have neither military glory nor free institutions, how 
should men acquire strength or majesty of mind ? Their 
wit degenerates into a kind of cleverness, with which they 
play the game of life like a match at chess, wherein suc- 
cess is every thing. All that remains of their love for 
antiquity consists in exaggerated expressions and external 
grandeur ; but, beside this baseless greatness, you often 
find the most vulgar tastes, the most miserably neglected 
homes. Is this, then, Corinne^ the country you prefer } 


Is its boisterous applause so essential to you, that every 
other kind of destiny would seem dull, compared with these 
re-echoing bi-avos? Who could hope to make you 
happy, in tearing you from this tumult ? You are an in- 
comprehensible person: deep in feeling, superficial in taste; 
independent by pride of soul, enslaved by a desire for dis- 
sipation ; capable of loving but one, yet requiring the 
notice of all the world. You are a sorceress, who alter- 
nately disturb and reassure me ; who, when most sublime, 
can at once descend from the region where you reign alone, 
to lose yourself among the herd. Corinne, Corinne ! in 
loving you, it is impossible to avoid fearing and doubting 
too. '' Oswald." 

Indignant as Corinne felt at Nevil's antipathy to her 
country, she was relieved by guessing that the fete, and 
her refusal to speak with him, had ruffled his temper. She 
hesitated, or believed herself hesitating, for some time, 
as to the line of conduct she ought to pursue. Love made 
her sigh for his presence : yet she could not brook his sup- 
posing that she wished to be his wife ; though in fortune, 
at least, his equal, and no way beneath him in name, if 
she deigned to reveal it. The uncontrolled life she had 
chosen might have given her some aversion to marriage ; 
and certainly, had not her attachment blinded her to all 
the pangs she must endure in espousing an Englishman, 
and renouncing Italy, she would have repulsed such an 
idea with disdain. A woman may forget her pride in 
all that concerns the heart : but when worldly interest 
appears the obstacle to inclination ; when the person be- 
loved can be accused of sacrificing himself in his union, 
she can no longer abandon herself to her feelings before 
him. Corinne, however, unable to break with her lover, 
trusted that she still might meet him, yet conceal her 
affection. It was in this belief that she determined on 
replying only to his accusations of the Italians, and rea- 
soning on them as if interested by no other subject. Perhaps 
the best way in which such a woman can regain her cold- 
ness and her dignity, is that of entrenching herself in the 
fortress of her mental superiority. 


" To Lord Nevil. 

Jan. 25. 1795. 

" If your letter concerned no one but me, my Lord, I 
should not attempt to justify myself. My character is so 
easily known, that he who cannot comprehend it intuitively, 
would not be enlightened by any explanation I could give. 
The virtuous reserve of Englishwomen, and the more art- 
ful graces of the J'rench, often conceal one half of what 
passes in their bosoms ; and what you are pleased to call 
magic in me, is nothing but an unconstrained disposition, 
which permits my varying, my inconsistent thoughts to be 
heard, without my taking the pains of bringing them into 
tune. Such harmony is nearly always factitious ; for 
most genuine characters are heedlessly confiding. But it is 
not of myself that I would speak to you ; it is of the un- 
fortunate nation whom you attack so cruelly. Can my 
regard for my friends have instilled this bitter malignity ? 
You know me too well to be jealous of them ; nor have I 
the vanity to suppose that any such sentiment has rendered 
you thus unjust. You say but what all foreigners say of 
the Italians, what must strike every one at first; but you 
should look deeper ere you thus sentence a people once so 
great. Whence came it that in the Roman day they were 
the most military in the world ; during the republics of the 
middle ages, the most tenacious of their freedom ; and, in 
the sixteenth century, the most illustrious for literature, 
science, and the arts ? Has not Italy pursued fame in 
every shape ? If it be lost to her now, blame her political 
situation ; since, in other circumstances, she showed herself 
so unlike all she is. 1 may be wrong, but the faults of 
the Italians only enhance my pity for their fate. Strangers, 
from time to time, have conquered and distracted this fair 
land, the object of their perpetual ambition ; yet strangers 
for ever reproach her natives with the defects inevitable to 
a vanquished race. 

Europe owes her learning, her accomplishments, to 
the Italians ; and, having turned their own gifts against 
them, would gladly deny them the only glory left to a 
people deprived of martial power and public Hberty. It 
is true that governments form the cliaiaclers of nations ; 


98 corinne; or italy. 

and, in Italy herself, you will find remarkable distinctions 
between the inhabitants of different states. The Piedmon- 
tese, who once formed a small national corps, have a more 
warlike spirit than the rest. The Florentines, who have 
mostly possessed either freedom or liberal rulers, are well- 
educated and well-mannered. The Venetians and the 
Genoese evince a capacity for politics, because they have a 
republican aristocracy. The Milanese are more sincere, 
thanks to their long intercourse with northern nations. 
The Neapolitans are prompt to rebel, having for ages lived 
beneath an imperfect government, bur still one of their 
own. The Roman nobles have nothing to do, either di- 
plomatic or military, and may well remain idly ignorant ; 
but the ecclesiastics, whose career is definite, have faculties 
far more developed ; and, as the papal law observes no 
distinction of birth, but is purely elective in its ordinance 
of the clergy, the result is, a species of liberality, not in 
ideas, but in habits, which renders Rome the most agreeable 
abode for those who hive neither power nor emulation for 
sustaining a part in the world. The people of the South 
are more easily modified by existing institutions than those 
of the North. This climate induces a languor favourable 
to resignation, and nature offers enough to console man 
for the advantages society denies. Undoubtedly there is 
much corruption in Italy: its civilisation is far from refine- 
ment. There is a savage wildness beneath Italian cunning; 
it is that of a hunter lying in wait for his prey. Indolent 
people easily become sly and shifting ; their natural gentle- 
ness serves to hide even a fit of rage ; for it is by our ha- 
bitual manner that an accidental change of feeling may be 
best concealed. Yet Italians have both truth and con- 
stancy in their private connections. Interest may sway 
them, but not pride. Here is no ceremony, no fashion ; 
none of the little everyday tricks for creating a sensation. 
The usual sources of artifice and of envy exist not here. 
Foes and rivals are deceived by those who consider them- 
selves at war with them ; but, while in peace, they act 
with honesty and candour. This is the very cause of your 
complaint. Our women hear of nothing but love; they live 
in an atmosphere of seduction and dangerous example; 
yet their frankness lends an innocence to gallantry itself. 


corinne; or italy. 99 

They have no fear of ridicule: many are so ignorant that 
they cannot even write, and confess it without scruple. 
They engage a Paglietto to answer letters for them, whch 
he does on paper large enough for a petition ; but among 
the better classes you see professors from the academies in 
their black scarfs, giving lessons publicly. If you are in- 
clined to laugh at them, they ask you, ' Is there any harm 
in understanding Greek, or living by our own exertions ? 
How can you deride so matter-of-course a proceeding ? ' 
Dare I, my Lord, touch on a more delicate subject? — the 
reason why our men so seldom display a military spirit. 
They readily expose their lives for love or hate : in such 
causes, the wounds given and received neither astonish nor 
alarm their witnesses. Fearless of death, when natural 
passions command them to defy it, they still, I must con- 
fess, value life above the political interests which slightly 
affect those who can scarcely be said to have a country. 
Chivalrous honour has little influence over a people among 
whom the opinions that nourish it are dead ; naturally 
enough, in such a disorganisation of public affairs, women 
gain a great ascendency ; perhaps too much so for them to 
respect or admire their lovers, who, nevertheless, treat 
them with the most delicate devotion. Domestic virtue 
constitutes the welfare and the pride of Englishwomen; but 
in no land, where love dispenses with its sacred bonds is 
the happiness of women watched over as in Italy. If our 
men cannot make a moral code for immorality, they are at 
least just and generous in their participation of cares and 
duties. They consider themselves more culpable than 
their mistresses when they break their chains : they know 
that women make the heaviest sacrifice ; and believe, that 
before the tribunal of the heart the greatest criminals are 
those who have done most wrong. Men err from selfish- 
ness ; women because they are weak. Where society is at 
once vigorous and corrupt, that is, most merciless to the 
faults that are followed by the worst misfortunes, women 
of course are used with more severity ; but where we have 
no established etiquettes, natural charity has a greater 
power. Spite all that has been said of Italian perfidy, I 
will assert, that there is as much real good-nature here as 
H 2 

100 corinne; or italy. 

in any other country of the world ; and that_, slandered as 
it is by strangers, they will no where meet with a kinder 
reception. Italians are reproached as flatterers ; it is with 
no premeditated plan, but in mere eagerness to please_, that 
they lavish expressions of affection, not often belied by 
their conduct. Would they be ever-faithful friends, if 
called on to prove so in danger or adversity? — A very 
small number, I allow, might be capable of such friend- 
ship ; but it is not to Italy alone that this observation is 
applicable. I have previously admitted their Oriental in- 
dolence. Yet the very women, who appear like so many 
beauties of a harem, may surprise you by traits of gener- 
osity or of revenge : as for the men, give them but an ob- 
ject, and, in six months, you might find that they would 
have learned and understood whatever was required of 
them ; but, while they are untaught, why should females 
be instructed ? An Italian girl would soon become worthy 
of an intelligent husband, provided that she loved him ; 
but in a country where all great interests are suppressed, a 
careless repose is more noble than a vain agitation about 
trifles. Literature itself must languish, where thoughts 
are not renewed by vigorous and varied action. Yet in 
what land have arts and letters been more worshipped ? 
History shows us, that the popes, princes, and people have 
at all times done homage to distinguished painters, sculp- 
tors, poets, and other writers. (15) This zeal was, I own, 
my Lord, one of the first motives which attachea me to thip 
country. I did not find here those seared imaginations, 
that discouraging spirit, nor that despotic mediocrity, 
which, elsewhere, can so soon stifle innate ability. Here a 
felicitous phrase takes fire, as it were, among its auditors. 
As genius is the gift which ranks highest amongst us, it 
inevitably excites much envy. Peregolese was assassin- 
ated : Giorgione wore a cuirasse, when obliged to paint in 
any public place ; but the violent jealousy to which talent 
gives birth here, is such as in other realms is created by 
power ; it seeks not to depreciate the object it can hate, or 
even kill, from the very fanaticism of admiration. Finally, 
when we see so much life in a circle so contracted, in the 
midst of so many obstacles and oppressions, we can hardly 


forbear from a vivid solicitude for those who respire with 
such avidity the little air that Fancy breathes through the 
boundaries which confine them. These are so limited, 
that men of our day can rarely acquire the pride and firm- 
ness which mark those of freer and more military states. 
I will even confess, if you desire it, my Lord, that such a 
national character must inspire a woman with more en- 
thusiasm ; but is it not possible that a man may be brave, 
honourable, nay, unite all the attributes which can teach us 
to love, without possessing those that might promise us 
content ? 



This letter revived all Oswald's remorse at having even 
thought of detaching himself from his love. The com- 
manding intellectual mildness of its reproof affected him 
deeply. A superiority so vast, so real, yet so simple, ap- 
peared to him out of all ordinary rule. He was never 
insensible that this was not the tender creature his fancy 
had chosen for the partner of his life : all he remembered 
of Lucy Edgarmond, at twelve years of age, better ac- 
corded with that ideal. But who could be compared with 
Corinne? She was a miracle formed by nature, in his 
behalf, he dared believe; since he might flatter himself 
that he was dear to her. Yet what would be his pros- 
pects if he declared his inclination to make her his wife ? 
Such, he thought, would be his decision ; yet the idea that 
her past life had not been entirely irreproachable, and that 
such an union would assuredly have been condemned by 
his father, again overwhelmed him with painful anxiety. 
He was not so subdued by grief, as he had been ere he 
met Corinne ; but he no longer felt the calm which may 
accompany repentance, when a whole life is devoted to 
expiate our faults. Formerly he did not fear yielding to 
his saddest memories, but now he dreaded the meditations 
which revealed to him the secrets of his heart He was 
a S 


preparing to seek Corinne, to thank her for her letter, and 
obtain pardon for his own, when his apartment was sud- 
denly entered by Mr. Edgarmond, the young Lucy's near 

This gentleman had lived chiefly on his estate in Wales ; 
he possessed just the principles and the prejudice that 
serve to keep things as they are ; and this is an advantage 
where things are as well arranged as human reason per- 
mits. In such a case^ the partisans of established order, even 
though stubbornly bigoted to their own way of thinking, 
deserve to be regarded as rational and enlightened men. 

Lord Nevil shuddered as this name was announced. 
AU the past seemed to rise before him in an instant ; 
and his next idea was, that Lady Edgarmond, the mother 
of Lucy, had charged her kinsman with reproaches. 
This thought restored his self-command : he received his 
countryman with excessive coldness ; though not a single 
aim of the good man's journey concerned our hero. He 
was travelling for his health, exercising himself in the 
chase, and drinking " Success to King George and old 
England ! " He was one of the best fellows in the world, 
with more wit and education than would have been sup- 
posed : ultra- English, even on points where it would have 
been advisable to be less so ; keeping up, in all countries, 
the habits of his own, and avoiding their natives, not from 
contempt, but a reluctance to speak in foreign tongues, 
and a timidity which, at the age of fifty, rendered him 
extremely shy of new acquaintance. 

^' I am delighted to see you," he said to Nevil. ^'I 
go to Naples in a fortnight : shall I find you there ? I 
wish I may ! having but little time to stay in Italy, as my 
regiment embarks shortly." — ^' Your regiment !" repeated 
Oswald, colouring, not that he had forgotten that, having a 
year's leave of absence, his presence would not be so soon 
required ; but he blushed to think that Corinne might 
banish even duty from his mind. " Your corps," con- 
tinued Mr. Edgarmond, " will leave you more leisure for 
the quiet necessary to restore your strength. Just before 
I left England. I saw a httle cousin of mine in whom you 
are interested : she is a charming girl ! and, by the time 


you return, next year, I don't doubt that she will be the 
finest woman in England." Nevil was silent, and Mr. Ed- 
garmond too. For some time after this, they addressed each 
other very laconically, though with kind politeness, and the 
guest rose to depart ; but, turning from the door, said, ab- 
ruptly, " Apropos, my Lord, you can do me a favour. I am 
told that you know the celebrated Corinne ; and, though I 
generally shrink from foreigners, I am really curious to see 
her." — " I will ask her permission to take you to her 
house, then," replied Oswald. " Do, I beg : let me see 
her, some day when she extemporises, dances, and sings." — 
'^ Corinne," returned Nevil, " does not thus display her 
accomplishments Jbefore strangers : she is every way your 
equal and mine." — " Forgive my mistake," cried his 
friend ; " but as she is merely called Corinne, and, at six 
and twenty, lives unprotected by any one of her family, I 
thought that she subsisted by her talents, and might gladly 
seize any opportunity of making them known." — ^' Her 
fortune is independent," replied Oswald, hastily ; '^ her 
mind still more so." Mr. Edgarmond regretted that 
he had mentioned her, seeing that the topic interested 
Lord Nevil. 

No people on earth deal more considerately with true 
affections than do the English. He departed ; Oswald re., 
mained alone, exclaiming to himself, *' I ought to marry 
Corinne ! I must secure her against future misinterpret- 
ation. I will offer her the little I can, rank and name, in 
return for the felicity which she alone can grant me." In 
this mood, full of hope and love, he hastened to her house; 
yet, by a natural impulse of diffidence, began by reassuring 
himself with conversation on indifferent themes ; among 
them was the request of Mr. Edgarmond. She was evi- 
dently discomposed by that name, and, in a trembling 
voice, refused his visit. Oswald was greatly astonished. 
" I should have thought that with you, who receive so 
much company," he said, " the title of my friend would 
be no motive for exclusion." — " Do not be offended, my 
Lord," she said; " believe me, I must have powerful reasons 
for denying any wish of yours." — " Will you tell me those 
reasons } " he asked. " Impossible ! " she answered. '' Be 
H 4 



it so, then," he articulated. The vehemence of his feelings 
checked his speech ; he would have left her, hut Corinne, 
through her tears, exclaimed in English, " For God's sake 
stay, if you would not break my heart !" 

These words and accents thrilled Nevil to the soul; 
he reseated himself at some distance from her, leaning his 
head against an alabaster vase, and murmuring, " Cruel 
woman ! you see I love you, and am twenty times a day 
ready to offer you my hand ; yet you will not tell me who 
you are, Corinne! Tell me now!" — "Oswald," she 
sighed, ^' you know not how you pain me : were I rash 
enough to obey, you would cease to love me." — ''^ Great 
God !" he cried, " what have you to reveal } " — " Nothing 
that renders me unworthy of you : but do not exact it. 
Some day, perhaps, when you love me better — if — ah ! I 
know not what I say — you shall know all, but do not 
abandon me unheard. Promise it in the name of your 
now sainted father ! " 

" Name him not !" raved Oswald. " Know you if he 
would unite or part us .^^ If you believe he would consent, 
say so, and I shall surmount this anguish. I will one day 
tell you the sad story of my life ; but now, behold the state 
to which you have reduced me ! " 

Cold dews stood on his pale brow ; his trembling 
lips could utter no more. Corinne seated herself beside 
him ; and, holding his hands in hers tenderly, recalled 
him to himself. " My dear Oswald ! " she said, " ask 
Mr. Edgarmond if he was ever in Northumberland, or^ 
at least, if he has been there only within the last five 
years : if so, you may bring him hither." Oswald gazed 
fixedly on her ; she cast down her eyes in silence. ^* I 
will do what you desire," he said, and departed. Secluded 
in his chamber, he exhausted his conjectures on the secrets 
of Corinne. It appeared evident that she had passed some 
time in England, and that her family name must be known 
there : but what was her motive for concealment, and why 
had she left his country } He was convinced that no stain 
could attach to her life ; but he feared that a combination 
<rf" circumstances might have made her seem blamable in 
the eyes of others. He was armed against the disappro- 

corinne; or italy. 105 

bation of every country save England. The memory of 
his father was so entwined with that of his native land, 
that each sentiment strengthened the other. Oswald learned 
from Edgarmond that he had visited Northumberland for 
the first time a year ago ; and therefore promised to in- 
troduce him at Corinne's that evening. He was the first 
to arrive there, in order to warn her against the miscon- 
ceptions of his friend, and beg her, by a cold reserve of 
manner, to show him how much he was deceived. 

'*^ If you permit me/' she observed, " I would rather 
treat him as I do every one else. If he wishes to hear the 
improvisatrice, he shall ; I will show myself to him such 
as I am ; for I think he will as easily perceive my rightful 
pride through this simple conduct, as if I behaved with an 
affected constraint." — " You are right, Corinne," said 
Oswald : '^ how wrong were he who would attempt to 
change you from your admirable self!" The rest of the 
party now joined them. Nevil placed himself near his love, 
with an added air of deference, rather to command that of 
others than to satisfy himself; he had soon the joy of 
finding this effort needless. She captivated Edgarmond, 
not only by her charms and conversation, but by inspiring 
that esteem which sterling characters, however contrasted, 
naturally feel for each other ; and when he ventured on 
asking her to extemporise for him, he aspired to this honour 
with the most revering earnestness. She consented without 
delay ; for she knew how to give her favours a value beyond 
that of difficult attainment. She was anxious to please the 
countryman of Nevil, — a man whose report of her ought 
to have some weight, — but these thoughts occasioned her 
so sudden a tremor, that she knew not how to begin. 
Oswald, grieved that she should not shine her best before 
an Englishman, turned away his eyes, in obvious em- 
barrassment ; and Corinne, thinking of no one but himself, 
lost all her presence of mind ; nor ideas, nor even words, 
were at her call ; and, suddenly giving up the attempt, she 
said to Mr. Edgarmond, " Forgive me, sir ; fear robs me 
of all power. 'Tis the first time, my friends know, that 
I was ever thus beside myself; but," she added, with a sigh, 
'^ it may not be the last." 



Till now, Oswald had seen her genius triumph over her 
affections ; but now feeling had entirely subdued her mind : 
yet so identified was he with her glory, that he suffered 
beneath this failure, instead of enjoying it. Certain, how- 
ever, that she would excel on a future interview with his 
friend, he gave himself up to the sweet pledge of his own 
power which he had just received ; and the image of his 
beloved reigned more securely in his heart than ever. 

BOOK vir. 



Lord Nevil was very desirous that Mr. Edgarmond should 
partake the conversation of Corinne, which^far surpassed 
her improvised verses. On the following day, the same 
party assembled at her house ; and, to elicit her remarks, 
he turned the discourse on Italian literature, provoking her 
natural vivacity by affirming that England could boast a 
greater number of true poets than Italy. " In the first 
place," said Corinne, '' foreigners usually know none but 
our first-rate poets : Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Gf uarini, Tasso, 
and Metastasio; but we have many others, such as Chiabrera, 
Guidi, Filicaja, and Parini, without reckoning Sannazer 
Politian, who wrote in Latin. All their verses are har- 
moniously coloured ; all more or less knew how to in- 
troduce the wonders of nature and art into their verbal 
pictures. Doubtless they want the melancholy grandeur 
of your bards, and their knowledge of the human heart ; 
but does not this kind of superiority become the philosopher 
better than the poet } The brilliant melody of our lan- 
guage is rather adapted to describe external objects than 
abstract meditation : it is more competent to depict fury 
than sadness; for reflection calls for metaphysic expressions; 
while revenge excites the fancy, and banishes the thought 
of grief. Cesarotti has translated Ossian in the most 

corinne; or italy. 107 

elegant manner; but, in reading him, we feel that his 
words are in themselves too joyous for the gloomy ideas 
they would recall; we yield to the charm of our soft 
phrases, as to the murmur of waves or the tints of flowers. 
"What more would you exact of poetry ? If you ask the 
nightingale the meaning of his song, he can explain but by 
recommencing it: we can only appreciate its music by 
giving way to the impression it makes on us. Our measured 
lines, with rapid terminations, composed of two brief syl- 
lables, glide along as their name (Sdruccioli) denotes, some- 
times imitating the light steps of a dance ; sometimes, with 
graver tone, realising the tumult of a tempest, or the clash of 
arms. Our poetry is a wonder of imagination ; you ought 
not there to seek for every species of pleasure." — ''I 
admit," returned Nevil, " that you account as well as 
possible for the beauties and defects of your national 
poetry : but when these faults, without these graces, are 
found in prose, how can you defend it } what is but vague 
in the one becomes unmeaning in the other. The crowd 
of common ideas, that your poets embellish by melody and 
by figures, is served up cold in your prose, with the most 
fatiguing pertinacity. The greatest' portion of your present 
prose writers use a language so declamatory, so diffuse, so 
abounding in superlatives, that one would think they aU 
dealt out the same accepted phrases by word of command, 
or by a kind of convention. Their style is a tissue, a piece 
of mosaic. They possess in its highest degree the art of 
inflating an idea, or frothing up a sentiment: one is tempted 
to ask them a similar question to that put by the negress 
to the Frenchwoman, in the days of hoop-petticoats, 
' Pray, Madam, is all that yourself?' Now, how much 
is real beneath this pomp of words, which one true ex- 
pression might dissipate like an idle dream .? " — " You 
forget," interrupted Corinne, " first Machiavel and Boc- 
caccio, then Gravina, Filangieri, and even, in our own 
days, Cesarotti, Verri, Bettinelli, and many others, who 
knew both how to write and how to think. (1 6) I agree 
with you, that, for the last century or two, unhappy cir- 
cumstances having deprived Italy of her independence, all 
zeal for truth has beeu so lost, that it is often impossible to 

108 corinne; or italy. 

speak it in any way. The result is^ a habit of resting 
content with words^ and never daring to approach a thought. 
Authors^ too sure that they can effect no change in the 
state of things, write but to show their wit, — the surest way 
of soon concluding with no wit at all ; for it is only by 
directing our efforts to a nobly useful aim that we can aug- 
ment our stock of ideas. When writers can do nothing for 
the welfare of their country ; when, indeed, their means 
constitute their end, from leading to no better, they double 
in a thousand windings, without advancing one step. The 
Italians are afraid of new ideas, rather because they are in- 
dolent than from literary serviHty. By nature they have 
much originality; but they give themselves no time to 
reflect. Their eloquence, so vivid in conversation, chills as 
they work ; besides this, the Southerns feel hampered by 
prose, and can only express themselves fully in verse. It 
is not thus with French literature," added Corinne to 
d'Erfeuil : " your prose writers are often more poetical than 
your versifiers." — '^'^ That is a truth established by classic 
authorities," replied the Count. " Bossuet, La Bruyere, 
Montesquieu, and Buffon can never be surpassed ; espe- 
cially the first two, who belonged to the age of Louis XIV. : 
they are perfect models for all to imitate who can; — a hint 
as important to foreigners as to ourselves." — " I can hardly 
think," returned Corinne, '^ that it were desirable for dis- 
tinct countries to lose their peculiarities ; an,d I dare to teU 
you. Count, that, in your own land, the national orthodoxy 
which opposes aU felicitous innovations must render your 
literature very barren. Genius is essentially creative : it 
bears the character of the individual who possesses it. 
Nature, who permits no two leaves to be exactly alike, has 
given a still greater diversity to human minds. Imitation, 
then, is a double murder ; for it deprives both copy and 
original of their primitive existence." — " Would you wish 
us" asked d'Erfeuil, " to admit such Gothic barbarisms as 
Young's ' Night Thoughts,' or the Spanish and Itahan 
Concetti ? What would become of our tasteful and elegant 
style after such a mixture } " The Prince Castel Forte now 
remarked, " I think that we all are in want of each other's 
aid. The literature of every country offers a new sphere 


of ideas to those familiar with it. Charles V. said, ^ The 
man who understands four languages is worth four men.* 
What that great genius applied to politics is as true in the 
state of letters. Most foreigners understand French ; their 
views_, therefore, are more extended than those of French- 
men, who know no language but their own. Why do they 
not oftener learn other tongues ? They would preserve 
what distinguishes themselves, and might acquire some 
things in which they still are wanting." 


" Ycu will confess, at least," replied the Count, '^ that 
there is one department in which we have nothing to learn 
from any one. Our theatre is decidedly the first in 
Europe. I cannot suppose that the English themselves 
would think of placing their Shakspeare above us." — 
" Pardon me, they do think of it," answered Mr. Edgar- 
mond; and having said this, resumed his previous silence. 
'^ Oh ! " exclaimed the Count, with civil contempt, ^' let 
every man think as he pleases ; but I persist in believing 
that, without presumption, we may call ourselves the 
highest of all dramatic artists. As for the Itahans, if I 
may speak frankly, they are in doubt whether there is 
such an art in the world. Music is every thing with them ; 
the piece nothing : if a second act possesses a better scena 
than a first, they begin with that ; nay, they will play por- 
tions of different operas on the same night, and between 
them an act from some prose comedy, containing nothing 
but moral sentences, such as our ancestors turned over to 
the use of other countries, as worn too threadbare for 
their own. Your famed musicians do what they will with 
your poets. One won't sing a certain air, unless the word 
Felicitd be introduced; the tenor demands his Tomba; a 
third can't shake unless it be upon Catene. The poor poet 
must do his best to harmonise these varied tastes with his 
dramatic situations. Nor is this the worst : some of 
them will not deign to walk on the stage; they must 

110 corinne; or italy. 

appear surrounded by clouds, or descend from the top of 
a palace stair-case, in order to give their entrance due 
effect. Let an air be sung in ever so tender or so furious 
a passage, the actor must needs bow his thanks for the ap- 
plause it draws down. In Semiramis, the other night_, 
the spectre of Ninus paid his respects to the pit with an 
obsequiousness quite neutralising the awe his costume 
should have created. In Italy^ the theatre is looked on 
merely as a rendezvous, where you need listen to nothing 
but the songs and the ballet. I may well say they listen 
to the ballet, for they are never quiet till after its com- 
mencement ; in itself it is the chef-d' (Euvre of bad taste ; 
except its grotesques, who are true caricaturists of dancings 
I know not what there is to amuse in your ballet beyond 
its absurdity. I have seen Gengis Khan, clothed in ermine 
and magnanimity, give up his crown to the child of his 
conquered rival, and lift him into the air upon his foot, a 
new way of raising a monarch to the throne ; I have seen 
the self-devotion of Curtius, in three acts, full of diver- 
ti semen ts. The hero, dressed like an Arcadian shepherd, 
had a long dance with his mistress, ere he mounted a real 
horse upon the stage, and threw himself into a fiery gulf, 
lined with orange, satin, and gold paper. In fact, I have 
seen an abridgement of the Roman history, turned into 
ballets, from Romulus down to Caesar." — " All that is very 
true," mildly replied the Prince of Castel ' Forte ; '^ but 
you speak only of our Opera, which is in no country con- 
sidered the dramatic theatre." — " Oh, it is still worse 
when they represent tragedies, or dramas not included 
under the head of those with happy catastrophes; they 
crowd more horrors into five acts than human imagination 
ever conceived. In one of these pieces a lover kills his 
mistress' brother, and burns her brains before the audience. 
The fourth act is occupied by the funeral, and ere the 
fifth begins, the lover, with the utmost composure, gives 
out the next night's harlequinade ; then resumes his cha- 
racter, in order to end the play by shooting himself. The 
tragedians are perfect counterparts of the cold exagger- 
ations in which they perform, committing the greatest 
atrocities with the most exemplary indifference. If an 


actor becomes impassioned, he is called a preacher, so 
much more emotion is betrayed in the pulpit than on the 
stage ; and it is lucky that these heroes are so peacefully 
pathetic, since, as there is nothing interesting in your plays, 
the more fuss they made, the more ridiculous they would 
become : it were well if they were divertingly so ; but it 
is all too monotonous to laugh at. Italy has neither tragedy 
nor comedy ; the only drama truly her own is the harle- 
quinade. A thievish, cowardly glutton; an amorous or 
avaricious old dupe of a guardian, are the materials. Vou 
will own that such inventions cost no very great efforts, and 
that the ' Tartuffe' and the ' Misanthrope' called for some 
exertion of genius." This attack displeased the Italians, 
though they laughed at it. In conversation the Count 
preferred displaying his wit to his good-humour. Natural 
benevolence prompted his actions, but self-love .his words. 
Castel Forte and others longed to refute his accusations, 
Ibut they thought the cause would be better defended by 
Corinne ; and as they rarely sought to shine themselves, 
they were content, after citing such names as Maffei, Me- 
tastasio, Goldoni, Alfieri, and Monti, with begging her to 
answer Monsieur d'Erfeuil. Corinne agreed with him that 
the Italians had no national theatre ; but she sought to 
prove that circumstances, and not want of talent, had 
caused this deficiency. '^ Comedy," she said, " as de- 
pending on observation of manners, can only exist in a 
country accustomed to a great and varied population. 
Italy is animated but by violent passions or effeminate 
enjoyments. Such passions give birth to crimes that con- 
found all shades of character. But that ideal comedy, 
which suits all times, all countries, was invented here. 
Harlequin, pantaloon, and clown are to be found in every 
piece of that description. Every where they have rather 
masks than faces ; that is, they wear the physiognomy of 
their class, and not of individuals. Doubtless our modern 
authors found these parts all made to their hands, like the 
pawns of a chess-board; but these fantastic creations, which, 
from one end of Europe to the other, still amuse not only 
children, but men whom fancy renders childish, surely 
give the ItaUans some claim on the art of comedy. Obser- 


vation of the human heart is an inexhaustible source of lite- 
rature ; but nations rather romantic than reflective yield 
themselves more readily to the delirium of joy than to phi- 
losophic satire. Something of sadness lurks beneath the 
pleasantry founded on a knowledge of mankind ; the most 
truly inoffensive gaiety is that which is purely imaginative. 
Not that Italians do not shrewdly study those with whom 
they are concerned. They detect the most private thoughts, 
as subtly as others ; but they are not wont to make a lite- 
rary use of the acuteness which marks their conduct. 
Perhaps they are reluctant to generalise and to publish their 
discoveries. Prudence may forbid their wasting on mere 
plays what may serve to guide their behaviour, or con- 
verting into witty fictions that which they find so useful in 
real life. Nevertheless Machiavel, who has made known all 
the secrets of criminal policy, may serve to show of what 
terrible sagacity the Italian mind is capable. Goldoni, 
who lived in Venice, where society is at its best, introduced 
more observation into his works than is commonly 
found. Yet his numerous comedies want variety both of 
character and situation. They seem modelled not on 
life, but on the generality of theatrical pieces. Irony is not 
the true character of Italian wit. It is Ariosto, and not 
Moliere, who can amuse us here. Gozzi, the rival of 
Goldoni, had much more irregular originality. He gave 
himself up freely to his genius ; mingling buffoonery with 
magic, imitating nothing in nature, but dealing with 
those fairy chimeras that bear the mind beyond the 
boundaries of this world. ■ He had a prodigious success in 
his day, and perhaps is the best specimen of Italian comic 
fancy ; but, to ascertain what our tragedy and comedy 
might become, they must be allowed a theatre, and a 
company. A host of small towns dissipate the few re- 
sources that might be collected. That division of states, 
usually so favourable to public welfare, is destructive of it 
here. We want a centre of light and power, to pierce the 
mists of surrounding prejudice. The authority of a go- 
vernment would be a blessing, if it contended with the 
ignorance of men, isolated among themselves, in separate 
provinces, and, by awakening emulation, gave life to a 
people now content with a dream. 


These and other discussions were spiritedly put fort 
by Corinne ; she equally understood the art of that light 
and rapid style^ which insists on nothing ; in her wish to 
please, adopting each by turns, though frequently abandon- 
ing herself to the talent which had rendered her so cele- 
brated as an improvisatrice. Often did she call on Castel 
Forte to support her opinions by his own ; but she spoke 
so well, that all her auditors listened with delight, and could 
not have endured an interruption. Mr. Edgarmond, above 
all, could never have wearied of seeing and hearing her : 
he hardly dared explain to himself the admiration she 
excited ; and whispered some words of praise, trusting that 
she would understand, without obliging him to repeat them. 
He felt, however, so anxious to hear her sentiments on 
tragedy, that, in spite of his timidity, he risked the question. 
^^ Madame," he said, " it appears to me that tragedies are 
what your literature wants most. I think that yours come 
less near an equality with our own, than children do to 
men : for childish sensibility, if light, is genuine ; while 
your serious dramas are so stilted and unnatural, that they 
stifle all emotion. Am I not right, my lord ? " he added, 
turning his eyes towards Nevil, with an appeal for assist- 
ance, and astonished at himself for having dared to say so 
much before so large a party. — "I think just as you do," 
returned Oswald: ^' Metastasio, whom they vaunt as the 
bard of love, gives that passion the same colouring in all 
countries and situations. His songs, indeed, abound with 
grace, harmony, and lyric beauty, especially when detached 
from the dramas to which they belong ; but it is impossible 
for us, whose Shakspeare is indisputably the poet who has 
most profoundly fathomed the depths of human passions, 
to bear with the fond pairs who fill nearly all the scenes of 
Metastasio, and, whether called Achilles or Thyrsis, Brutus 
or Corilas, all sing in the same strain, the martyrdom 
they endure, and depict, as a species of insipid idiotcy, the 
most stormy impulse that can wreck the heart of man. It 
is with real respect for Alfieri that I venture a few com- 
ments on his works, their aim is so noble ! The sentiments 
of the author so well accord with the life of the man, that 
his tragedies ought always to. be praised as so many great 

114 corinne; or italy. 

actions_, even though they may be criticised in a literary 
sense. It strikes me, that some of them have a monotony 
in their vigour_, as Metastasio's have in their sweetness. 
Alfieri gives us such a profusion of energy and worth, or 
such an exaggeration of violence and guilt, that it is im- 
possible to recognise one human being among his heroes. 
Men are never either so vile or so generous as he describes 
them. The object is to contrast vice with virtue ; but 
these contrasts lack the gradations of truth. If tyrants 
were obliged to put up with half he makes their victims 
say to their faces, one would really feel tempted to pity 
them. In the tragedy of ' Octavia,' this outrage of proba- 
bility is most apparent. Seneca lectures Nero, as if the 
one were the bravest, and the other the most patient of 
men. The master of the world allows himself to be in- 
sulted, and put in a rage, scene after scene, as if it were 
not in his own power to end all this by a single word. It 
is certain, that, in these continual dialogues, Seneca utters 
maxims which one might pride to hear in a harangue or 
read in a dissertation ; but is this the way to give an idea 
of tyranny ? — instead of investing it with terror, to set it up 
as a block against which to tilt with wordy weapons ! Had 
Shakspeare represented Nero surrounded by trembling 
slaves, who scarce dared answer the most indifferent ques- 
tion, himself vainly endeavouring to appear at ease, and 
Seneca at his side, composing the apology ^or Agrippina's 
murder, would not our horror have been a thousand times 
more great ? and, for one reflection made by the author, 
would not millions have arisen, in the spectator's mind, 
from the silent rhetoric of so true a picture } " Oswald 
might have spoken much longer ere Corinne would have 
interrupted him, so fascinated was she by the sound of his 
voice, and the turn of his expressions. Scarce could she 
remove her gaze from his countenance, even when he ceased 
to speak ; then, as her friends eagerly asked what sh6 
thought of Italian tragedy, she answered by addressing her- 
self to Nevil. — ^^ My lord, I so entirely agree with you, 
that it is not as a disputant I reply ; but to make some 
exceptions to your, perhaps, too general rules. It is true 
that Metastasio is rather a lyric than a dramatic poet ; and 

couinne; or italy 115 

^hat he depicts love rather as one of the fine arts that em- 
bellish life, than as the secret source of our deepest joys and 
florrows. Although our poetry has been chiefly devoted to 
love, I will hazard the assertion that we have more truth 
and power in our portraitures of every other passion. For 
amatory themes, a kind of conventional style has been 
formed amongst us ; and poets are inspired by what they 
have read, not by their own feelings. Love as it is in 
Italy, bears not the slightest resemblance to love such as 
our authors describe. 

" I know but one romance, the ^Fiarametta* of Boccaccio, 
in which the passion is attired in its truly national colours. 
Italian love is a deep and rapid impression, more frequently 
betrayed by the silent ardour of our deeds, than by inge- 
nious and highly wrought language. Our literature, in 
general, bears but a faint stamp of our manners. We are 
too humbly modest to found tragedies on our own history, 
or fill them with our own emotions. (17) Alfieri, by a 
singular chance, was transplanted from antiquity into mo- 
dern times. He was born for action ; yet permitted but 
to write : his style resented this restraint. He wished by 
a literary road to reach a political goal ; a noble one, but 
such as spoils all works of fancy. He was impatient of 
living among learned writers and enlightened readers, who, 
nevertheless, cared for nothing serious; but amused them- 
selves with madrigals and nouvellettes. Alfieri sought to 
give his tragedies a more austere character. He retrenched 
every thing that could interfere with the interest of his 
dialogue ; as if determined to make his countrymen do 
penance for their natural vivacity. Yet he was much ad- 
mired ; because he was truly great, and because the in- 
habitants of Rome applaud all praise bestowed on the 
ancient Romans, as if it belonged to themselves. They 
are amateurs of virtue, as of the pictures their galleries 
possess ; but Alfieri has not created any thing that may 
be called the Italian drama; that is, a school of tra- 
gedy, in which a merit peculiar to Italy may be found. 
He has not even characterised the manners of the times 
and countries he selected. His ^ Pazzi,* '^Virginia,' and 
'Philip II.' are replete with powerful and elevated thought; 
I 2 

Il6 corinne; oh italy. 

but you every where find the impress of Alfieri^ not that 
of the scene nor of the period assumed. Widely as he 
differs from all French authors in most respects^ he re- 
sembles them in the habit of painting every subject he 
touches with the hues of his own mind." — At this allusion 
d'Erfeuil observed, " It would be impossible for us to 
brook on our stage either the insignificance of the Grecians, 
or the monstrosities of Shakspeare. The French have too 
much taste. Our drama stands alone for elegance and deli- 
cacy : to introduce any thing foreign, were to plunge us 
into barbarism." — '^'^ You would as scon think of sur- 
rounding France with the great wall of China ! " said 
Corinne, smiling: " yet the rare beauties of your tragic 
authors would be better developed, if you would sometimes 
permit others besides Frenchmen to appear in their scenes. 
But we, poor Italians, would lose much, by confining our- 
selves to rules that must confer on us less honour than 
constraint. The national character ought to form the 
national theatre. We love the fine arts, music, scenery, 
even pantomime ; all, in fact, that strikes our senses. How, 
then, can a drama, of which eloquence is the best charm, 
content us ? In vain did Alfieri strive to reduce us to this ; 
he himself felt that his system was too rigorous. (18) 
His ' Saul,' Maffei's ' Merope,' Monti's ' Aristodemus,' 
above all, the poetry of Dante (though he never wrote a 
tragedy), seem to give the best notion of what the dra- 
matic art might become here. In ' Merope' the action is 
simple, but the language glorious ; why should such style 
be interdicted in our plays } Verse becomes so magnificent 
in Italian, that we ought to be the last people to renounce 
its beauty. Alfieri, who, when he pleased, could excel in 
every way, has in his ' Saul' made superb use of lyric poetry; 
and, indeed, music itself might there be very happily intro- 
duced; not to interrupt the dialogue, but to calm the fury 
of the king, by the harp of David. We possess such 
delicious music, as may well inebriate all mental power ; 
we ought, therefore, instead of separating, to unite these 
attributes; not by making our heroes sing, which destroys 
their dignity, but by choruses, like those of the ancients, 
connected by natural links >vith the main situation, as often 

corinne; or italy. 117 

happens in real life. Far from rendering the Italian drama 
less imaginative, I think we ought in every way to increase 
the illusive pleasure of the audience. Our lively taste for 
musicj ballet, and spectacle, is a proof of powerful fancy, 
and a necessity to interest ourselves incessantly, even in 
thus sporting with serious images, instead of rendering 
them more severe than they need be, as did Alfieri. We 
think it our duty to applaud whatever is grave and ma- 
jestic, but soon return to our natural tastes ; and are satis- 
fied with any tragedy, so it be embellished by that va- 
riety which the English and Spaniards so highly appre- 
ciate. Monti's ^ Aristodemus' partakes the terrible pathos 
of Dante ; and has surely a just title to our pride. Dante, 
so versatile a master-spirit, possessed a tragic genius, which 
would have produced a grand effect, if he could have 
adapted it to the stage : he knew how to set before the 
eye whatever passed in the soul ; he made us not only feel 
but look upon despair. Had he written plays, they must 
have affected young and old, the many as well as the few. 
Dramatic literature must be in some way popular; a whole 
' nation constitute its judges." — "^ Since the time of Dante," 
said Oswald, '^ Italy has played a great political part — 
ere it can boast a national tragic school, great events must 
call forth, in real life, the emotions which become the stage. 
Of all literary chefs d'aeuvre a tragedy most thoroughly be- 
longs to a whole people : the author's genms is matured by 
the public spirit of his audience; by the government and 
manners of his country; by all, in fact, which recurs each 
day to the mind, forming the moral being, even as the air we 
breathe invigorates our physical hfe. The Spaniards, whom 
you resemble in climate and in creed, have, nevertheless, 
far more dramatic talent. Their pieces are drawn from 
their history, their chivalry, and religious faith : they are 
original and animated. Their success in this way may 
restore them to their former fame as a nation ; but how 
can we found in Italy a style of tragedy which she has 
never possessed?" — " I have better hopes, my lord," re- 
turned Corinne, '^from the soaring spirits that are among" 
us, though unfavoured as yet by circumstances ; but what 
we most need is histrionic ability. Affected language in- 
1 3 


corinne: or italy. 

^uces false declamation ; yet there is no tongue in which 
a great actor could evince more potency than in our own ; 
for melodious sounds lend an added charm to just accentu- 
ation^ without rohhing it of its force." — " If you would 
convince us of this/' interrupted Castel Forte, ^^ do so, by 
giving us the inexpressible pleasure of seeing you in tra- 
gedy : you surely consider your foreign friends worthy of 
witnessing the talent which you monopolise in Italy ; and 
in which (as your own soul is peculiarly expressed in it) 
you can have no superior on earth." 

Corinne secretly desired to perform before Oswald, and 
thus appear to the best advantage; but she could not con- 
sent without his approval : her looks requested it. He 
understood them ; and, ambitious that she should charm 
Mr. Edgarmond in a manner which her yesterday's timidity 
had prevented, he joined his solicitations to those of her other 
guests. She hesitated no longer. — '^ Well, then," she said 
to Castel Forte, " we will, if you please, accomplish a long- 
formed scheme of mine, that of playing my translation of 
*^ Romeo and Juliet.' " — *' What! " exclaimed Edgarmond, 
^' Do you understand English, and love Shakspeare ? " — 
" As a friend," she replied. — ^' And you will play Juliet 
in Italian ? and I shall hear you? and you, too, dear Nevil ! 
How happy you will be ! " Then, instantly repenting his 
indiscretion, he blushed. The blush of delicacy and kind- 
ness is at all ages interesting. — ^' How happy we shall 
be, " he added, with embarrassment, " if we may be present 
at such a mental banquet 1 " 


All was arranged in a few days ; parts distributed, the 
night fixed on, and the palace of a relative of Prince Castel 
Forte devoted to the representation. Oswald felt at once 
disquiet and delight; he enjoyed Corinne's success, by 
anticipation ; but even thus grew jealous, beforehand, of no 
one man in particular, but of the public, who would witness 


an excellence of which he felt as if he alone had a right to 
be aware. He would have had Corinne reserve her charms 
for him, and appear to others as timid as an Englishwoman. 
However distinguished a man may be, he rarely feels un- 
qualified pleasure in the superiority of a woman. If he 
does not love her, his self-esteem takes offence ; if he does, 
his heart is oppressed by it. Beside Corinne, Oswald was 
rather intoxicated than happy : the admiration she ex- 
cited increased his passion, without giving stability to his 
intents. She was a phenomenon every day new ; but the 
very wonder she inspired seemed to lessen his hopes of 
domestic tranquiUity. She was, notwithstanding, so gentle, 
so easy to live with, that she might have been beloved for 
her lowliest attributes, independent of all others ; yet it 
was by these others that she had become remarkable. 
Lord Nevil, with all his advantages, thought himself be- 
neath her, and doubted the duration of their attachment. 
In vain did she make herself his slave : the conqueror was 
too much in awe of his captive queen to enjoy his realm 
in peace. Some hours before the performance, Nevil led 
her to the house of the Princess, where the theatre had 
been fitted up. The sun shone beautifully ; and at one of 
the staircase windows, which commanded a view of Rome 
and the Campagna, he paused a moment, saying, ^' Be- 
hold, how heaven itself lights you to victory !" — " It is 
td you, who point out its favour, that I owe such protec- 
tion, then," she repHed. " Tell me," he added, " do the 
pure emotions kindled by the sweetness of nature suffice 
to please you ? Remember this is a very different air from 
that you will respire in the tumultuous hall which soon will 
re-echo your name?" — "Oswald," she said, 'Mf I obtain 
applause, will it not be because you hear it that it may 
touch my heart ? If I display any talent, is it not my 
love for you that inspires me } Poetry, religion, all en- 
thusiastic feelings, are in harmony with nature ; and 
while gazing on the azure sky, while yielding to the re- 
verie it creates, I understand better than ever the senti- 
ments of Juliet, I become more worthy of Romeo." — 
" Yes, thou art worthy of him, celestial creature ! " cried 
Nevil: " this jealous wish to be alone with thee in the uni- 
I 4 

120 corinne; or italy. 

verse, is, I own, a weakness. Go ! receive the homage of 
the world ! but be thy love, which is more divine even 
than thy genius, directed to none but me ! " They parted, 
and Oswald took his place, awaiting her appearance on the 
stage. In Verona the tomb of Romeo and Juliet is still 
shown. Shakspeare has written this play with truly 
southern fancy ; at once impassioned and vivacious ; 
triumphant in delight ; and rushing from voluptuous 
felicity to despair and death. Its sudden love, we feel^ 
from the first, will never be effaced ; for the force of 
nature, beneath a burning clime, and not habitual fickle- 
ness, gives it birth. The sun is not capricious, though 
the vegetation be rapid ; and Shakspeare, better than any 
other foreign poet, knew how to seize the national character 
of Italy, — that fertility of mind which invents a thousand 
varied expressions for the same emotion ; that Oriental 
eloquence which borrows images from all nature, to 
clothe the sensations of young hearts. In Ossian one 
chord constantly replies to the thrill of sensibility ; but in 
Shakspeare nothing is cold nor same. A sunbeam, divided 
and reflected in a thousand varied ways, produces endlessly 
multiplied tints, all telling of the light and heat from 
whence they are derived. Thus ^'Romeo and Juliet," trans- 
lated into Itahan, seems but resuming its own mother- 

The first meeting of the lovers is at a ball given by the 
Capulets, mortal enemies of the Montagues. Corinne was 
charmingly attired, her tresses mixed with gems and 
flowers; and at first sight scarce appeared herself: her 
voice, however, was soon recognised, as was her face^ 
though now almost deified by poetic fire. Unanimous 
applause rung through the house as she appeared. Her 
first look discovered Oswald, and rested on him, sparkling 
■with hope and love. The gazers' hearts beat with rapture 
and with fear, as if beholding happiness too great to last 
on earth. But was it for Corinne to realise such a pre- 
sentiment ? When Romeo drew near, to whisper his sense 
of her grace and beauty, in lines so glowing in English, so 
magnificent in Itahan, the spectators, transported at being 
thus interpreted, fully entered into the passion whose 


hasty dawn appeared more than excusable. Oswald be- 
came all uneasiness ; he felt as if every man was ready to 
proclaim her an angel among women_, to challenge him on 
what he felt for her, to dispute his rights, and tear her 
from his arms. A dazzling cloud passed before his eyes ; 
he feared that he should faint, and concealed himself 
behind a pillar. Corinne's eyes anxiously sought him, 
and with so deep a tone did she pronounce 

" Too early seen unknown, and known too late ! " 

that he trembled as if she applied these words to their 
personal situation. He renewed his gaze on her dignified 
and natural gestures, her countenance which spoke more 
than words could tell, those mysteries of the heart which 
must ever remain inexplicable, and yet for ever decide our 
fate. The accents, the looks, the least movements of a 
truly sensitive actor, reveal the depths of the human 
breast. The ideal of the fine arts always mingles with 
these revelations ; the harmony of verse and the charm of 
attitude lending to passion the grace and majesty it so often 
wants in real life — it is here seen through the medium 
of imagination, without losing aught of its truth. 

In the second act, Juliet has an interview with Romeo 
from a balcony in her garden. Of all Corinne's ornaments, 
none but the flowers were left ; and even they were scarce 
visible, as the theatre was faintly illumined in imitation 
of moonlight, and the countenance of the fond Italian 
veiled in tender gloom. Her voice sounded still more 
sweetly than it had done amid the splendours of the fete. 
Her hand, raised towards the stars, seemed invoking them, 
as alone worthy of her confidence ; and when she repeated, 
" Oh, Romeo, Romeo ! " certain as Oswald felt that it was 
of him she thought, he was jealous that any other name 
than his own should be breathed by tones so delicious. 
She sat in front of the balcony ; the actor who played 
Romeo was somewhat in the shade : all the glances of 
Corinne fell on her beloved, as she spoke those entrancing, 
lines : — 


" In truth, fair Montague ! I am too fond, 

And therefore thou mayst think my 'haviour light; 
But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true 
Than those who have more cunning to be strange." 

** Therefore — pardon me ! " 

At those words '' Pardon me ! " for loving, for letting thee 
know it;, — so tender an appeal filled the eyes of Corinne, 
such respect for her lover, such pride in her '' fair Mon- 
tague," that Oswald raised his head, and believed himself 
the monarch of the world, since he reigned over a heart 
enclosing all the treasures of love and life. Corinne, per- 
ceiving the effect this took on him, became doubly ani- 
mated by that heartfelt enthusiasm which, of itself, can 
work such miracles ; and when, at the approach of day, 
Juliet fancies that she hears the lark, the signal for Ro- 
meo's departure*, the accents of Corinne acquired a super- 
human power ; they told of love, indeed, but a religious 
mystery was now mingled with it ; — recollections of 
heaven — a presage of returning thither — the celestial 
grief of a soul exiled on earth, and soon to be reclaimed by 
its diviner homfe. Ah, how happy was Corinne, while 
playing so noble a part before the lover of her choice ! 
How few lives can bear a comparison with one such night ! 
Had Oswald himself been the Romeo, her pleasure could 
not have been so complete. She would . have longed to 
break through the greatest poet's verse, and speak after her 
own heart ; or perhaps the diffidence of love would have 
enchained her genius ; truth carried to such a height would 
have destroyed illusion : but how sweet was the conscious- 
ness of his presence, while she was influenced by the ex- 
alted impulses which poetry alone can awaken, giving us 
all the excitement, without the anguish, of reality ; while 
the affections she portrayed were neither wholly personal 
nor entirely abstract, but seemed saying to her Oswald, 
'' Behold, how capable I am of loving!" It was impos- 

* Corinne's translation deviated widely from the original. Minor points I 
have presumed to reconcile, but this I must leave as I find, though the tw o 
parting scenes in Romeo and Juliet are so dissimilar, that it is difficult to guess 
now they could become confused in such a mind as Madame de Stael's ; nor 
why she should have omitted all mention of Tybalt's death, and Romeo's 
banishment — Tr. 


sible for her to be perfectly at ease in her own situation. 
Passion and modesty ahernately impelled and restrained 
her_, now piquing her pride^ now enforcing its submission : 
but thus to display her perfections without arrogance, to 
unite sensibihty with the calm it so often disturbs; to live a 
moment in the sweetest dreams of the heart, — such was the 
pure delight of Corinne while acting Juliet. To this was 
united all her pleasure in the applause she won ; and her 
looks seemed laying her success at the feet of him whose 
acceptance was worth all fame, and who preferred her glory 
to his own. Yes, for that hour, Corinne, thou wert enviable! 
tasting, at the price of thy repose, the ecstasies for which, 
till then, thou hadst vainly sighed, and must henceforth 
for ever deplore. 

Juliet secretly becomes the wife of Romeo. Her pa- 
rents command her to espouse another, and she obtains 
from a friar a sleeping-draught, which gives her the ap- 
pearance of death. Corinne's trembling step and altered 
voice ; her looks, now wild, now dejected, betrayed the 
struggles of love and fear ; the terrible image of being 
borne alive to the tomb of her ancestors, and the bravfe 
fidelity which bade her young soul triumph over so natu- 
ral a dread. Once she raised her eyes to heaven, with an 
ardent petition for that aid with which no human being 
can dispense ; at another time Oswald fancied that she 
spread her arms towards him: he longed to fly to her aid; 
he rose in a kind of delirium, then sunk on his seat, re- 
called to himself by the surprise of those around him ; but 
his agitation was too strong to be concealed. In the fifth 
act, Romeo, believing Juliet dead, bears her from the tomb. 
Corinne was clad in white, her black locks dishevelled, 
her head gracefully resting on his bosom ; but with an air 
of death so sadly true, that Oswald's heart was torn by 
contending sensations. He could not bear to see her in 
another's embrace ; he shuddered at the sight of her in- 
animate beauty, and felt, like Romeo, that cruel union of 
despair and love, voluptuousness and death, which renders 
this scene the most heart-rending on the stage. At last, 
when Juliet wakes in the grave, beside which her lover 
has just sacrificed himself, her first words beneath those 


funeral vaults partake not of the fear they might occasion, 
but she criesj 

" Where is my lord ? where is my Romeo ? " 

Nevil replied but by a groan ; and was hurried by Mr. 
Edgarmond out of the theatre. At the conclusion of the 
piece, Corinne was overpowered by fatigue and excitement. 
Oswald was the first to seek her room, where, still in the 
shroud of Juliet, she lay half-swooning in the arms of her 
women. In the excess of his dismay, he could no longer 
distinguish fiction from reality ; but, throwing himself at 
her feet, exclaimed, 

" Eyes, look your last ! Arms, take your last embrace ! " 

Corinne, whose senses still wandered, shrieked, " Great 
God ! what say you ? Would you leave me ?" — '' No, 
no, I swear !" he cried. At that instant a crowd of 
admiring friends broke in upon them ; she anxiously de- 
sired to hear what he had meant to say, but they were not 
left alone together for an instant, and could not speak to 
each other again that evening. 

Never had any drama produced such an effect in Italy. 
The Romans extolled the piece, the translation, and the 
actress; asserting that this was the tragedy which repre- 
sented them to the life, and gave an added value to their 
language, by eloquence at once inspired, and natural. 
Corinne received all these eulogiums with gracious sweet- 
ness ; but her soul hung on these brief words, " I swear ! " 
beheving that they contained the secret of her destiny. 


cobinne; or Italy. 125 


BOOK viir. 



After such an evening, Oswald could not close his eyes 
all night. He had never been so near sacrificing every 
thing to Corinne. He wished not even to learn her 
secret, until he had solemnly consecrated his life to her 
service ; all indecision seemed banished, as he mentally 
composed the letter which he intended to write the next 
morning : but this resolved and happy confidence was not 
of long duration. His thoughts again strayed towards the 
past, reminding him that he had loved before ; and though 
far less than he adored Corinne, nay, an object not to be 
compared with her, he had then been hurried into rashness 
that broke his father's heart. " How know I," he cried, 
'^ that he does not once more fear his son may forget his 
duty to his native land ? Oh thou, the best friend I can 
ever call mine own ! " he continued, to the miniature of his 
parent, ^' I can no longer hear thy voice, yet teach me by 
that silent look, still — still so powerful over me, how 
I should act, that thou mayest gaze from heaven with some 
satisfaction on thy son. Yet, yet remember the thirst for 
happiness which consumes humanity ; be but as indulgent 
in thy celestial home, as late thou wert on earth. I should 
become more worthy of thee, were my heart content ; did 
I live with that angelic creature, had I the honour of pro- 
tecting — saving such a woman ! Save her?" he added, 
^suddenly, " and from what } from the life she loves ; a 

126 corinnb; or italy. 

life of triumph, flattery, and freedom ! " This reflection of 
his own scared him as if it had been spoken by the spirit 
of his sire. In situations hke Oswald's, who has not felt 
that secret superstition which makes us regard our thoughts 
and sufferings as warnings from on high? Ah, what 
struggles beset the soul susceptible alike of passion and of 
conscience ! He paced his chamber in cruel agitation; 
sometimes pausing to gaze on the soft and lovely moon- 
light of Italy. Nature's fair smile may render us resigned 
to every thing but suspense. Day rose on his — and 
when d'Erfeuil and Edgarmond entered his room, so much 
had one night changed him, that both were alarmed for his 
health. The Count first broke silence. ^' I must confess," 
he said, ^^ that I was charmed last evening. What a pity 
that such capabilities should be wasted on a woman of 
fortune ! were Corinne but poor, free as she is, she might 
take to the stage, and be the glory of Italy." Oswald was 
grieved by this speech ; yet knew not how to show it ; 
for such was d'Erfeuil's peculiarity, that one could not 
legitimately object to aught he said, however great the pain 
and anger he awakened. It is only for feeling hearts to 
practise reciprocal indulgence. Self-love, so sensitive in 
its own cause, has rarely any sympathy to spare for others. 
Mr. Edgarmond spoke of Corinne in the most pleasing 
manner ; and Nevil replied in English, to defend this theme 
from the uncongenial comments of d'Erfeuil, who ex- 
claimed, " So, it seems, I am one too many here : well, 
I'll to the lady ; she must be longing for my opinion of her 
JuHet. I have a few hints to give her, for future improve- 
ment : they relate merely to detail, but details do much 
towards a whole ; and she is really so astonishing a woman, 
that I shall neglect nothing that can bring her to per- 
fection. Indeed," he added, confidentially addressing 
Nevil, " I must encourage her to play frequently ; it is 
the surest way of catching some foreigner of rank. You 
and I, dear Oswald^ are too accustomed to fine girls for 
any one of them to lead us into such an absurdity ; but a 
German prince, now, or a Spanish grandee — who knows } 
eh }" At these words Oswald started up, beside himself ; 
and tliere is no telling what might have occurred had the 


Count guessed his impulse ; but he was so satisfied with 
his own concluding remark, that he tripped from the 
room, without a suspicion of having offended Lord Nevil : 
had he dreamt of such a thing, he would assuredly have 
remained where he was, though he hked Oswald as well as 
he could hke any one ; but his undaunted valour contri- 
buted still more than his conceit to veil his defects from 
himself. With so much delicacy in all affairs of honour, 
he could not believe himself deficient in that of feeling ; 
and having good right to consider himself brave and gen- 
tlemanly, he never calculated on any deeper qualities than 
his own. Not one cause of Oswald's agitation had escaped 
the eye of Edgarmond. As soon as they were alone, he 
said, " My dear Neville, good bye ! I'm off for Naples." 
— " So soon ? " exclaimed his friend. ." Yes, it is not 
good for me to stay here ; for even at fifty I am not sure 
that I should not go mad for Corinne." — " And what 
then }" — '^ Why then, such a woman is not fit to Uve in 
Wales : believe me, dear Oswald, none but English wives 
will do for England. It is not for me to advise, and I 
scarce need say that I shall never allude there to what I 
have seen here; but Corinne, all-charming as she is, makes 
me think, with Walpole, ' Of what use would she be in a 
house ? ' Now the house is every thing with us, you know, 
at least to our wives. Can you fancy your lovely Italian 
remaining quietly at home, while fox-hunts or debates 
took you abroad ? or leaving you at your wine, to make 
tea against your rising from table .'' Dear Oswald, the 
domestic worth of our women you will never find else- 
where. Here men have nothing to do but to please the 
ladies ; therefore, the more agreeable they find them, the 
better : but with us, where men lead active Uves, the 
women should bloom in the shade; to which it were a 
thousand pities if Corinne were condemned. I would 
place her on the English throne, not beneath my humble 
roof. My lord ! I knew your mother, whom your re- 
spected father so much regretted : just such a woman will 
be my young cousin ; and that is the wife I would choose, 
were I still of an age to be beloved. Farewell, my dear 
Nevil : do not take what I have said amiss, for no one can 

128 cobinne; or italy. 

admire Corinne^more than I do; nay, perhaps, at your 
years, I should not be able to give up the hope of winning 
her." He pressed his young friend's hand very cordially, 
and left him, ere Oswald could utter a word ; but Edgar- 
mond understood the cause of this silence, and, conten 
with the grasp which replied to his, was glad to conclud 
a conversation which had cost him no slight pain. The 
only portion of what he had said, that reached the heart of 
Oswald, was the mention of his mother, and the deep 
affection his fatheV felt for her. She had died ere their 
child was fourteen ; yet he reveringly recalled the retiring 
virtues of her character. ^^ Madman that I am ! " he 
cried, " I desired to know what kind of wife my father 
had destined me, and I am answered by the image of his 
own, whom he adored. What would I more, then .^ why 
deceive myself? why pretend an ignorance of what he 
would think now, could I yet consult him ? " Still it was 
with terror that he thought of returning to Corinne, with- 
out giving her a confirmation of the sentiments he had 
testified. The tumult of his breast became at last so un- 
controllable, that it occasioned a recurrence of the distress- 
ing accident against which he now believed his lungs 
secure. One may imagine the frightful scene, — his 
alarmed domestics calling for help, as he lay silently hoping 
that death would end his sorrow. " If I could die, once 
more looking on Corinne," he thought, ^^ once more 
called her Romeo." A few tears fell from his eyes, the 
first that any grief, save the loss of his father, had cost 
him since that event. He wrote a melancholy line 
accounting for his absence, to Corinne. She had begun 
the day with fond delusive hopes. Believing herself loved, 
she was content ; for she knew not very clearly what more 
on earth she wished. A thousand circumstances blended the 
thought of marrying Oswald with fear ; and, as her nature 
was the present's slave, too heedless of the future, the day 
which was to load her with such care rose like the purest, 
calmest of her life. On receiving his note, how were her 
feelings changed ! She deemed him in great danger, and 
instantly, on foot, crossed the then crowded Corso, enter- 
ing his abode before all the eyes of Rome. She had not 


given herself time to think, but walked so rapidly, that 
when she reached his chamber she could neither speak nor 
breathe. He comprehended all she had risked for his 
sake, and over-rated the consequences of an act which in 
England would have ruined a woman's fame, especially if 
unwed : transported by generosity and gratitude, he raised 
himself, weak as he was, pressed her to his heart, and mur- 
mured, " Dear love ! leave thee ? now that thou hast 

compromised thyself ? — no, no ! — let my reparation " 

She read his thought, and gently withdrawing from his 
arms, first ascertained that he was better than she had 
^flxpected, then said gravely, — '' You mistake, my Lord! 
in coming to you I have done no more than the greatest 
number of women in Rome would have done in my place. 
Here you know none but me. I heard you were ill ; it is 
my duty to nurse you. Ceremony should be obeyed, in- 
deed, when it sacrifices but one's self, yet ought to yield 
before the higher feelings due to the grief or danger of a 
friend. What would be the lot of a woman, if the same 
laws which permitted her to love forbade her to indulge 
the resistless impulse of flying to the aid of those most dear 
to her ? I repeat, my Lord, fear nothing for me ! My age 
and talents give me the freedoms of a married female. I 
do not conceal from my friends that I asa here. I know 
not if they blame me for loving you, but surely, as I do, 
they cannot blame my devotion to you now." This sincere 
and natural reply filled Oswald's heart with most contrasted 
emotions : touched as he was by its dehcacy, he was half 
disappointed. He would have found a pretext 'in her 
peril — a necessity for terminating his own doubts. He 
mused with displeasure on Italian liberty, which prolonged 
them thus, by permitting him so much favour, without 
imposing any bonds in return. He wished that honour had 
commanded him to follow inclination. These troublous 
thoughts caused him a severe relapse. Corinne, though 
suffering the most intense anxiety, lavished the fondest 
cares on his revival. Towards evening he was still more 
oppressed ; she knelt beside his couch, supporting his 
head upon her bosom, though far more pitiable than him- 
self. Oft as he gazed on her, did a look of rapture break 

130 corinne; or italy. 

through all his pangs. *^Corinne_," he whispered, ^' here are 
some papers — you shall read to me — written by my father 
on Death. Think not/' he added, as he marked her dismay, 
*' that I believe myself dying ; but whenever I am ill I 
reperuse these consolations, and seem again to hear them 
from his lips ; besides, my dearest, I wish you to know 
what a man he was ; you will the better comprehend my 
regret, his empire over me, — all that I will some day confide 
in you." Corinne took the papers, which Oswald always 
carried about him, and with a faltering voice began, — 

" Oh, ye just ! beloved of the Lord ! ye speak of death 
without a fear ; to you it is but a change of homes ; and 
this ye leave may be the least of all. Innumerable worlds 
that shine through yon infinitude of space ! unknown com- 
munities of His creatures — children ! strewn through the 
firmament, ranged beneath its concave, let our praises rise 
with yours ! We know not your condition, nor your share 
of God's free bounty; but, in thinking over life and death, 
the past, the future, we participate in the interests of all 
intelligent, all sentient beings, however distant be their 
dwelling places. Assembled spheres ! wide scattered fa- 
milies ! ye sing with us. Glory to the Lord of Heaven ! the 
King of earth ! the Spirit of the universe ! whose will 
transforms sterility to harvest, darkness to light, and death 
to life eternal. Assuredly the end of the just man deserves 
our envy ; but few of us, or of our sires before us, have 
looked on such a death. Where is he who shall meet the 
eye of Omnipotence unawed ? Where is he who hath loved 
God without once wavering ? Who served him from his 
youth up, and, in his age, finds nothing to remember with 
remorse ? Where is the man, in all his actions rporal, who 
has not been led by flattery, or scared by slander ? So rare 
a model were worthy of imitation ; but where exists it ? 
If such be amongst us, how ought our respect to follow 
him ! Let us beg to be present at his death, as at the loveliest 
of human spectacles. Take courage, and surround the bed, 
whence he will rise no more ! He knows it, yet is all se- 
rene : a heavenly halo seems to crown his brow. He says, 
with the Apostle, ' I know in whom I have believed ;' and 
this reliance, as his strength decays, lights up his features 


Still. Already he beholds his celestial home, yet unforget- 
ful of the one he leaves. He is God's own ; hut turns not 
stoically from ties that lent a charm to his past life. His 
faithful partner, by the law of nature, will be the first to 
follow him. He dries her tears, and tells her they shall 
meet in heaven ! Even there unable to expect felicity 
without her. Next he reminds her of the happy days that 
they have led together ; not to afflict the heart of such 
dear friend, but to increase their mutual confidence in 
their Lord's pardoning grace. The tender love he ever 
bore his hfe's companion now seeks to soften her regrets; 
to bid her revel in the sweet idea that their two beings 
grew from the same stem ; and that this union may prove 
one defence, one guarantee the more, against the terrors 
of that dark futurity wherein God's pity is the sole refuge 
of our startled thoughts. But how conceive the thousand 
feelings that pierce a constant heart, when one vast soUtude 
appears before it.'' and all the interests that have filled 
past years are vanishing for ever ? O thou, who must 
survive this second self. Heaven lent for thy support ! 
who was thine all, and whose looks now bid thee a sad 
adieu ! thou wilt not shrink from laying thy hand upon 
the fainting heart, whose latest pulse, after the death of 
words, speaks it thine own. Shall we then blame you if 
you wish your dust might mingle ? All-gracious Deity ! 
awaken them together. Or, if but one deserves thy 
favouring call to number with the elect, let but the other 
learn these blissful tidings ; read them in angel light one 
fleeting instant, and he will sink resigned back to per- 
petual gloom. Perhaps I err in this essay to paint the 
last hours of such a man, who sees the advancing strides 
of death, and feels that he must part from all he holds 
mcst dear. He struggles for a momentary strength, that 
liis last words may serve to instruct his children. * Fear 
not,' he says, ' to watch your sire's release, to lose your 
oldest friend ; it is by God's ordinance he goes before 
you, from a world into which he came the first. He 
would fain teach you courage, though he weeps to say 
farewell : he could have wished to stay and aid you longer, 
by experience to have led you some steps farther on he 
K 2 

132 corinne; or italy. 

way surrounded by such perils for your youth ; but life 
has no defence against its Giver's mandate. You will pro- 
ceed alone in a wide world, where I shall be no more. 
May you abundantly reap all the blessings that Providence 
has sown there ! But never forget that this world is a 
land through which we only journey to our home. Let 
us hope to meet again. May our Father accept the sa- 
crifice I tender, in your cause, of aU my vows and tears ! 
Cling to religion ! Trust its promises ! Love it, as the 
last link betwixt child and parent ; betwixt life and death ! 
Draw near me, that I may see you still. The benedic- 
tion of an humble Christian rest with you all ! ' He dies ! 
Angels, receive his soul, and leave us here the memory 
of his deeds, his faith, his chastened hope." (1) 

The emotions of Oswald and Corinne had frequently 
interrupted their progress : at last they were obliged to 
give up the attempt. She trembled lest he should harm 
himself by weeping, unconscious that her tears flowed 
fast as his. '' Yes," sobbed Nevil ; " yes, sweetest friend 
of my bosom, the floods of our hearts have mingled ; you 
have mourned with me that guardian saint whose last em- 
brace yet thrills my breast, whose noble countenance I 
still behold. Perhaps he has chosen thee for my solace." 
— '' No, no," exclaimed Corinne ; " he did not think me 
worthy." — ^' What say you ? " interrupted Oswald, and 
alarmed lest she had betrayed herself. She; replied, — ^' He 
might not have thought me worthy of you." This slight 
change of phrase dissipated his uneasiness, and he fear- 
lessly continued speaking of his father. The physicians 
arrived, and slightly re-assured him ; but absolutely forbade 
his attempting to converse, until his internal hurt was 
healed. Six whole days passed, during which Corinne 
never left him. With gentle firmness she enjoined his 
silence, yet contrived to vary the hours by reading, music, 
and sometimes by a sportive dialogue, in which she sus- 
tained both parts; — serious or gay, it was for his sake that 
she supported herself, veiling beneath a thousand graceful 
arts the solicitude which consumed her ; she was never 
off" her guard for an instant. She perceived what Oswald 
suffered, almost before himself: the courage he assumed 


deceived her not : she did^ indeed, '^ anticipate the asking 
eye," while her chief endeavour was that of diverting his 
mind, as much as possible, from the value of these tender 
offices. If he turned pale, the rose fled from her lip, and 
her hand trembled as she brought him a restorative: 
even then would she smile through her tears, and press his 
hand to her heart, as if she would fain have added her 
stock of Ufe to his. At last her efforts succeeded : he reco- 
vered. " Corinne," he said, as soon as permitted to speak, 
'* why has not my friend Edgarmond witnessed your con- 
duct ? he would have seen that you are not less good than 
great ; that domestic life with you would be a perpetual 
enchantment; that you differ from our women only in 
adding charms to virtue. It is too much ! here ends the 
combat that so nearly reduced me to the grave. Corinne ! 
you, who conceal your own secrets, shall hear all mine, and 
pronounce our doom." — ^' Our doom," she replied, " if 
you feel as I do, is — not to part ; yet believe me, till now, 
at least, I have never dared to wish myself your wife : the 
scheme of my existence is entirely disordered by the love 
that every day enslaves me more and more ; yet I know 
not if we ought to marry." — '^ Corinne," he cried, '^ do 
you despise me for having hesitated ? Can you attribute 
my delay to contemptible motives? Have you not guessed 
that the deep remorse to which I have been for two years 
a prey alone has been the cause ?" — "I know it," she 
answered. '^ Had I suspected you of considerations foreign 
to those of the heart, you would not have been dear to me. 
But life, I know, belongs not all to love ; habit and me- 
mory weave such nets around us that even passion cannot 
quite destroy ; broken for a moment, they will grow again, 
as the ivy clasps the oak. My dear Oswald ! let us give 
no epoch of life more than it requires. At this, it is essential 
to me that you leave me not. The dread of a sudden se- 
paration incessantly pursues me. You are a stranger here; 
no ties detain you : if once you go, all is over; nothing will 
be left to me of you, but my own grief. Nature, the arts, 
poetry, all that I have shared with you, lately, alas ! with 
you alone, will speak no longer to my soul ! I never wake 
without trembling. I ask the fair day if it has still a right 
K 3 

134 cobinne; or italy. 

to shine ; if you, the sun of my being, are near me yet ? 
Oswald, remove this fear, and I will not look beyond the 
present's sweet security." — " You know," repHed he, '' that 
no Englishman should renounce his country : war may 
recall me."— "Oh God!" she cried, "would you pre- 
pare my mind ? " Her Hmbs quivered, as if at the approach 
of the most terrific danger. " If it be even so," she added, 
"take me with you — as your wife— your slave ! " Then sud- 
denly regaining her spirits, she cbntinued, — " Oswald, you 
will never depart without warning me ? Never! will you? 
Listen ! in no country is a criminal led to torture without 
being allowed some hours to collect his thoughts. It must 
not be by letter : you will come yourself, to tell me — to 
hear me — ere you fly,? How! you hesitate to grant my 
prayer.?" — "No," returned he, "you wish it; and I 
swear, if my departure be necessary, I will apprise you 
of it, and that moment shall decide our fate." She left 


CoRiNNE now carefully avoided all explanations. She 
wished to render her lover's life as calm as possible. 
Their every interview had tended to convince her that the 
disclosure of what she had been, and sacrificed, was but too 
likely to make an unfavourable impression ; she, therefore, 
sought again to interest him in the still unseen wonders of 
Rome, and thus retard the instant that must clear all doubts. 
Such a situation woidd be insupportable beneath any other 
feeling than love, which sheds such spells over every mi- 
nute, that, though still desiring some indefinite futurity, we 
receive a day as a century of joy, and pain, so full of sen- 
sations and ideas, is each succeeding morrow. Love is 
the emblem of eternity : it confounds all notion of time ; 
effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end : we 
fancy that we have always possessed what we love, so dif- 
ficult is it to imagine how we could have lived without it. 
The more terrible separation seems the less probable it 


becomes : like death, it is an evil we rather name than 
believe, as if the inevitable were impossible. Corinne, 
who, in her innocent artifices for varying Oswald's amuse- 
ments, had hitherto reserved the statues and paintings, now 
proposed taking him to see them, as his health was suf- 
ficiently re-established. — '' It is shameful," she said, with 
a smile, " that you should be still so ignorant ; therefore 
to-morrow we will commence our tour through the galle- 
ries and museums." — " As you will," replied Nevil ; 
" but, indeed, Corinne, you want not the aid of such re- 
sources to keep me with you ; on the contrary, I make a 
sacrifice to obey you, in turning my gaze to any other 
object, be it what it may." 

They went first to the VaticaUj that palace of sculpture, 
where the human form shines deified by paganism, as are 
the virtues by Christianity. In those silent halls are 
assembled gods and heroes ; while beauty, in eternal sleep, 
looks as if dreaming of herself were the sole pleasure she 
required. As we contemplate these admirable forms and 
features, the design of the Divinity, in creating man, seems 
revealed by the noble person he has deigned to bestow on 
him. The soul is elevated by hopes full of chaste enthu- 
siasm ; for beauty is a portion of the universe, which, be- 
neath whatever guise presented, awakes religion in the 
heart of man. What poetry invests a face where the most 
sublime expression is fixed for ever, where the grandest 
thoughts are enshrined in images so worthy of them ! 
Sometimes an ancient sculptor completed but one statue in 
his life ; that constituted his history. He daily added to 
its perfection : if he loved or was beloved ; if he derived 
fresh ideas from art or nature, they served but to embellish 
the features of this idol. He translated into looks all the 
feelings of his soul. Grief, in the present state of society 
so cold and oppressive, then actually ennobled its victim ; 
indeed to this day the being who has not suffered can 
never have thought or felt. But the ancients dignified 
grief by heroic composure, a sense of their own strength, 
developed by their public freedom. The loveliest Grecian 
statues were mostly expressive of repose. The Laocoon and 
the Niobe are among the few stamped by sorrow ; but it 
K 4 



is the vengeance of heaven and not human passion that they 
both recall. The moral being was so well organised of old, 
the air circulated so freely in those manly chests^ and po- 
litical order so harmonised with such faculties, that those 
times scarce ever, like our own, produced discontented men. 
Subtle as were the ideas then discovered, the arts were fur- 
nished with none but those primitive affections which alone 
can be typified by eternal marble. Hardly can a trace of 
melancholy be found on their statues. A head of Apollo, 
in the Justinian palace, and one of the dying Alexander, 
indeed, betray both thoughtfulness and pain; but they 
belonged to the period of Grecian slavery, which banished 
the tranquil pride that usually pervaded both their sculp- 
ture and their poetry. Thought, unfed from without, preys 
on itself, digging up and analysing its own treasures ; but 
it has not the creative power which happiness alone can 
give. Even the antique sarcophagii of the Vatican teem 
but with martial or joyous images : the commemoration 
of an active life they thought the best homage they could 
pay the dead — nothing weakened or discouraged the 
living. Emulation was the reigning principle in art as in 
policy : there was room for all the virtues, as for all the 
talents. The vulgar prided in the ability to admire, and 
genius was worshipped even by those who could not aspire 
to its palm. Grecian religion was not, like Christianity, 
the solace of misery, the wealth of the poor, the future of 
the dying : it required glory and triumph ; it formed the 
apotheosis of man. In this perishable creed even beauty 
was a dogma : artists, called on to represent base or fero- 
cious passions, shielded the human form from degradation, 
by blending it with the animal, as in the satyrs and cen- 
taurs. On the contrary, when seeking to realise an un- 
usual sublimity, they united the charms of both sexes ; as 
in the warlike Minerva, and the Apollo Musagetes ; feli- 
citous propinquity of vigour and sweetness, without which 
neither quality can attain perfection ! Corinne delayed 
Oswald some time before the sleeping figures that adorn 
the tombs, in the manner most favourable to their art. She 
observed that statues representing an action suspended at 
its height, an impulse suddenly checked, create, sometimes. 


a painful astonishment ; but an attitude of complete repose 
offers an image that thoroughly accords with the influence 
of southern skies. The arts there seem but the peaceful 
spectators of nature ; and genius itself, which agitates a 
northern breast, there appears but one harmony the more. 
Oswald and Corinne entered the court in which the sculp- 
tured animals are assembled, with the statue of Tiberius in 
the midst of them : this arrangement was made without 
premeditation ; the creatur,es seem to have ranged them- 
selves around their master. Another such hall contains 
the gloomy works of the Egyptians, resembling mummies 
more than men. This people, as much as possible, assimi- 
lated life with death, and lent no animation to their human 
effigies : that province of art appeared to them inaccessiblfi. 
About the porticoes of this museum each step presents 
new wonders : vases, altars, ornaments of all kinds, sur- 
round the Apollo, the Laocoon, and the Muses. Here may 
one learn to appreciate Homer and Sophocles, attaining a 
knowledge of antiquity that cannot be elsewhere acquired. 
Amid these porticoes are fountains, whose incessant flow 
gently reminds you of past hours : it is two thousand 
years since the artists of these chefs-d'oeuvre existed. But 
the most melancholy sights here are the broken statues, the 
torso of Hercules, heads separated from their trunks ; the 
foot of a Jupiter, which it is supposed must have belonged 
to the largest and most symmetrical statue ever known. 
One sees the battle-field whereon Time contended with 
Glory ; these mutilated limbs attesting the tyrant's victory, 
and our own losses. After leaving the Vatican, Corinne 
led Oswald to the colossal figures on Monte Cavallo, said 
to be those of Castor and Pollux. Each of these heroes 
govern a foaming steed with one hand : this struggle of 
man with brute, like all the works of the ancients, finely 
exemplifying the physical powers of human nature, which 
iiad then a dignity it no longer possesses. Bodily exercises 
are generally abandoned to our common people : personal 
vigour, in the antique, appeared so intimately connected 
with the moral qualities of those who lived in the heart of 
war, a war of single combats, that generosity, fierceness, 
command, and height of stature, seemed inseparable, ere 


intellectual religion had throned man's potency in his soul. 
As the gods wore our shape^ every attribute appears sym- 
bolical : the ' • brawns of Hercules " suggest no recollections 
of vulgar life, but of divine, almighty will, clothed in super- 
natural grandeur. 

Corinne and Oswald finished their day by visiting the 
studio of the great Canova. The statues gained much from 
being seen by torchlight, as the ancients must have thought, 
who placed them in their Thermes, inaccessible to the day. 
A deeper shade thus softens the brilliant uniformity of the 
marble : its pallor looks more like that of life. At that 
time Canova had just achieved an exquisite figure, intended 
for a tomb ; it represented Grief leaning on a Lion. Co- 
rinne detected a resemblance to Nevil, with which the 
artist himself was struck. Our Enghshman turned away 
his head, to avoid this kind of attention, whispering to his 
beloved, " Corinne, I believed myself condemned to this 
eternal grief ere I met you, who have so changed me, that 
sometimes hope, and always a delicious agitation, pervades 
the heart that ought to be devoted to regret." 


In painting, the wealth of Rome surpasses that of the rest 
of the world. Only one point of discussion can exist on 
the effect which her pictures produce — does the nature of 
the subjects selected by Italy's great masters admit the 
varied originality of passion which painting can exj)ress ? 
The difference of opinion between Oswald and Cormne on 
this point, as on others, sprung but from the difference of 
their countries and creeds. Corinne affirmed that Scripture 
subjects were those most favourable to the painter ; that 
sculpture was the Pagan's art, and painting the Christian's; 
that Michael Angelo, the painter of the Old, and Raphael, 
that of the New Testament, must have been gifted with 
sensibility profound as that of Shakspeare or Racine. 
'' Sculpture," she said, '' can present but a simple or ener- 


getic life to the eye, while painting displays the mys- 
teries of retirement and resignation, and makes the im- 
mortal spirit speak through the fleeting colours. Historical 
facts, or incidents drawn from the poets, are rarely pic- 
turesque. One had need, in order to understand them, 
to keep up the custom of writing the speeches of their per- 
sonages on ribands rolling from their mouths. But re- 
ligious pieces are instantly comprehended by the whole 
world ; and our attention is not turned from the art in 
order to divine their meaning. 

" The generahty of modern painters are too theatrical. 
They bear the stamp of an age in which the unity of exist- 
ence and natural way of life, familiar to Andrew Mantegne, 
Perugin, and Leonardo de Vinci, is entirely forgotten. 
To this antique repose they were wont to add the depth of 
feeling which marks Christianity. For this I admire the 
compositions of Raphael, especially in his early works. 
All the figures tend towards the main object, without 
being elaborately grouped to create a sensation — this ho- 
nesty in the arts, as in all things else, characterises true 
genius ; for speculations on success usually destroy enthu^ 
siasm. There is a rhetoric in painting as in poetry ; and 
those who have it not seek to veil the defect in brilliant 
but illusive auxiliaries, rich costume, remarkable postures, 
while an unpretending virgin, with her infant at her 
breast, an old man attending the mass of Bolsena, a 
young one leaning on his staff, in the school of Athens, 
or Saint Cecilia raising her eyes to heaven, by the mere 
force of expression, act most powerfully on the mind. 
These natural beauties grow on us each day, while of 
works done for effect our first sight is always the most 
striking."(2) Corinne fortified these reflections by another 
— it was the impossibility of our sympathising with the my- 
thology of the Greeks and Romans, or inventing on their 
ground. *' We may imitate them by study," she said.; 
'' but the wings of genius cannot be restrained to flights 
for which learning and memory are so indispensable, and 
wherein it can but copy books or statues. Now in pic- 
tures alluding to our own history and faith the painter is 
personally inspired; feehng what he depicts, retracing 


what he has seen^ he draws from the life. Portraitures 
of piety are mental blessings that no others could replace ; 
as they assure us that the artist's genius was animated by 
the holy zeal which alone can support us against the dis- 
gusts of life and the injustice of man." 

Oswald could not^ in all respects, agree with her : he 
was almost scandalised at seeing that Michael Angelo had 
attempted to represent the Deity himself in mortal shape; 
he did not think that we should dare embody Him ; and could 
scarcely call up one thought sufficiently ethereal thus to 
ascend towards the Supreme Being, though he felt that 
images of this kind, in painting, always leave us much to 
desire. He believed, with Corinne, that religious medita- 
tion is the most heartfelt sentiment we can experience, and 
that which supplies a painter with the grandest physiogno- 
mical mysteries ; but as religion represses all movements 
of the heart to which she has not given birth, the faces of 
saints and martyrs cannot be much varied. Humility, so 
lovely in the sight of heaven, weakens the energy of 
earthly passion, and necessarily monotonises the generaUty 
of scriptural subjects. When the terrible Angelo dealt 
with them, he almost changed their spirit, giving to his 
prophets that formidable air more suitable to heathen gods 
than to saints. Oft, too, like Dante, he mixed Pagan at- 
tributes with those of Christianity. One of the most 
affecting truths in its early establishment is the lowly 
station of the apostles who preached it, the slavery of the 
Jews, so long depositaries of the promise that announced 
the Saviour. This contrast between insignificance of 
means and greatness of result is morally beautiful. Yet, 
in painting, where means alone can be displayed. Christian 
subjects must needs prove less attractive than those derived 
from the times of heroic fable. Of all arts, none save 
music can be purely religious. Painting cannot be content 
with an expression indefinite as that of sound. It is true 
that a happy combination of colours, and of clair -obscure, 
is harmony to the eye ; but as it shows us life, it should 
give forth life's strong and varied passions. Undoubtedly 
such passages of history ought to be selected as are too 
well known to be uninteUigible : facts must flash on us 


from canvass, for all the pleasures the fine arts bestow are 
thus immediate ; but with this equality provided, histori- 
cal pictures have the advantage of diversified situation and 
sentiments. Nevil asserted, too, that a preference should 
be given to scenes from tragedies, or the most touching 
poetic fictions, so that all the pleasures of imagination 
might thus unite. Corinne contended against this opinion, 
seducing as it was ; convinced that the encroachment of 
one art upon another would be mutually injurious. For 
sculpture loses by attempting the groups that belong to 
painting, painting by aspiring to dramatic animation. 
The arts are limited, not in their powers but in their 
means. Genius seeks not to vanquish the fitness of things 
which its glory consists in guessing. " You, my dear 
'Oswald," said Corinne, " love not the arts for themselves, 
but as they accord with your own feelings ; you are moved 
merely when they remind you of your heart's afflictions. 
Music and poetry better suit such a disposition than those 
which speak to the eye, however ideally ; they can but 
please or interest us while our minds are calm and our 
fancy is free. We need not the gaiety which society con- 
fers in order to enjoy them, but the composure born of 
soft and radiant climes. We ought, in the arts that re- 
present exterior objects, to feel the universal harmony of 
nature, which, while we are distressed, we have not within 
ourselves." — "I know not," answered Oswald, " if I 
have sought food for my sorrows in the arts, but at least I 
am sure that I cannot endure their reminding me of 
physical suffering. My strongest objection against Scrip- 
ture pictures is the pain I feel in looking on blood and 
tortures, however exalted the faith of their victims. Phi- 
loctetus is, perhaps, the only tragic subject in which such 
agonies can be admitted ; but with how much of poetry 
are his cruel pangs invested ! They are caused by the 
darts of Hercules ; and surely the son of Esculapius can 
cure them. His wounds are so associated with the moral 
resentment they stir in that pierced breast, that they can 
excite no symptom of disgust. But the Possessed in Ra- 
phael's Transfiguration is disagreeable and undignified. 
We would fain discover the charm of grief, or fancy it 


like the melancholy of prosperity. It is the ideal of human 
fate that ought to appear. Nothing is more revolting than 
ensanguined gashes or muscular convulsions. In such 
pictures we at once miss and dread to find exactitude of 
imitation. What pleasure could such attempted fidelity 
bestow ? it is always either more horrible or less lovely 
than nature herself." — " You are right, my Lord/' said 
Corinne, '^ in wishing that these blots should be effaced from 
Christian pictures ; they are unnecessary. Nevertheless, 
allow that soul- felt genius can triumph over them all. 
Look on the death of St. Jerome by Dominichino ; that 
venerable frame is livid, emaciated; but life eternal fills 
his aspect; and the miseries of the world are here collected 
but to melt before the hallowed rays of devotion. Yet, 
dear Oswald, though I am not wholly of your mind, I 
wish to show you that, even in differing, we have always 
some analogy. I have attempted a reahsation of your 
ideal in the gallery to which my brothers in art have con- 
tributed, and where I have sketched a few designs my- 
self : you shall see the advantages and defects of the styles 
you prefer in my house at Tivoh. The weather is fine ; 
shall we go there to-morrow ? " — ^' My love, can you 
doubt my reply ? " he exclaimed. '' Have I another 
blessing in the world but you } The life I have too much 
freed from other occupations is now filled by the felicity of 
seeing and of hearing my Corinne ! " 


Oswald himself drove the four horses that drew them next 
day towards Tivoli : he delighted in their rapid course, 
which seemed to lend fresh vivacity to the sense of ex- 
istence — an impression so sweet when enjoyed beside those 
we love. He was careful, even to fear, lest the slightest 
accident should befall his charge — that protecting air is such 
a link betwixt man and woman ! Corinne, though less easily 
alarmed than the rest of her sex, observed his solicitude 


with such pleasure as made her almost wish she could be 
frightened, that she might claim the re-assurances of Oswald. 
What gave him so great an ascendency over her was the. 
occasional unexpected contrasts with himself that lent a 
peculiar charm to his whole manner. Every one admired his 
mind and person ; but both were particularly interesting 
to a woman at once thus constant and versatile. Though 
occupied by nothing but Corinne, this same interest per- 
petually assumed a new character : sometimes reserve pre- 
dominated ; then he abandoned himself to his passion ; 
anon he was perfectly amiable and content ; as probably, 
by a gloomy bitterness, betrayed the sincerity of his 
distress. Agitated at heart, he strove to appear serene, 
and left her to guess the secrets of his bosom. This kept 
her curiosity for ever on the alert. His very faults set off 
his merits; and no man, however agreeable, who was devoid 
of these contradictions and inconsistences, could thus have 
captivated Corinne : she was subdued by her fear of him. 
He reigned in her heart by a good and by an evil power — 
by his own qualities, and by the anxiety their ill-regulated 
state inspired. There was no safety in the happiness he 
bestowed. This, perhaps, accounts for the exaltation of 
her love ; she might not have thus adored aught she did 
not fear to lose. A mind of ardent yet delicate sensibility 
may weary of all save a beii)g whose own, for ever in 
motion, appears like a heaven, now clear and smiling, now 
lapped in threatening clouds. Oswald, ever truly, deeply 
attached, was not the less often on the brink of abjuring 
the object of his tenderness, because long habit had per- 
suaded him that he could find nothing but remorse in the 
too vivid feelings of his breast. 

On their way to Tivoli, they passed the ruins of Adrian's 
palace, and the immense garden that surrounded it. Here 
were collected the rarest productions of tlie realms con- 
quered by Rome. There are still seen the scattered stones 
called Egypt, India, and Asia. Farther off is the retreat 
where Zenobia ended her days. The queen of Palmvra 
sustained not, in adversity, the greatness of her doom : she 
knew neither how to die for glory, like a man, nor how, 
like a woman, to die rather than betray her friend. At 



last they beheld Tivoli^ once the abode of Brutus, Au., 
gustus, Maecenas, Catullus, but, above all, Horace, whose 
verses have immortalised these scenes. Corinne's villa stood 
near the loud cascade of Teverone. On the top of the 
hill, facing her garden, was the Sibyl's temple. The 
ancients, by building these fanes on heights like this, sug- 
gested the due superiority of religion over all other pursuits. 
They bid you " look from nature up to nature's God," 
and tell of the gratitude that successive generations have 
paid to heaven. The landscape, seen from whatever point, 
includes this its central ornament. Such ruins remind one 
not of the work of man. They harmonise with the fair 
trees and lonely torrent, that emblem of the years which 
have made them what they are. The most beauteous land 
that awoke no memory of great events were uninteresting, 
compared with every spot that history sanctifies. What 
place could more appropriately have been selected as the 
home of Corinne than that consecrated to the Sibyl, a 
woman divinely inspired ? The house was charming ; 
decked in all the elegance of modern taste, yet evidently 
by a classic hand. You saw that its mistress understood 
felicity in its highest signification ; that which implies all 
that can ennoble, while it excites our minds. A sighing 
melody now stole on Oswald's ear, as if the nodding 
flowers and wavipg shrubs thus lent a voice to nature. 
Corinne informed him that it proceeded from the Eolian 
harps, which she had hung in her grottoes, adding music 
to the perfume of the air. Her lover was entranced. 
^' Corinne," he cried, throwing himself at her feet, '^ till 
to-day I have censured mine OAvn bliss beside thee ; but 
now I feel as if the prayers of mine offended parent had 
won me all this favour ; the chaste repose I here enjoy 
telLs me that I am pardoned. Fearlessly, then, unite thy 
fate with mine : there is no danger now !" — " Well," she 
replied, " let us not disturb this peace by naming Fate. 
Why strive to gain more than she ever grants? WTiy 
seek for change while we are happy ? " He was hurt by 
this reply. He thought she should have understood his 
readiness to confide, to promise, all. This evasion, then, 
offended and afflicted him : he appreciated not the dehcaxiy 


which forbade Corinne to profit by his weakness. Where 
we really love, we often dread more than we desire the 
solemn moment that exchanges hope for certainty. Oswald, 
however, concluded that, much as she loved him, she 
preferred her independence, and therefore shunned an in- 
dissoluble tie. Irritated by this mistake, he followed her 
to the gallery in frigid silence. She guessed his mood, 
but knew his pride too well to tell him so ; yet^ with a 
vague design of soothing him, she lent even to general and 
indifferent topics the softest tones of affection. 

Her gallery was composed of historical, poetic, re- 
ligious subjects, and landscapes. None of them contained 
any great number of figures. Crowded pictures are, 
doubtless, arduous tasks ; but their beauties are mostly 
either too confused or too detailed. Unity of interest, 
that vital principle of art, as of all things, is necessarily 
frittered away. The first picture represented Brutus, 
sitting lost in thought, at the foot of the statue of Rome, 
while slaves bore by the dead bodies of the sons he had 
condemned ; on the other side, their mother and sisters 
stood in frantic despair, fortunately excused, by their sex_, 
from that courage which sacrifices the affections. The 
situation of Brutus, beneath the statue of Rome, tells all. 
But how, without explanation, can we know that this is 
Brutus, or that those are his children, whom he himself 
has sentenced? and yet the event cannot be better set 
forth by any painting. Roma fills its back-ground, as yet 
unornamented as a city, grand only as the country that 
could inspire such heroism. " Once hear the name," said 
Corinne, " and doubtless your whole soul is given up to it ; 
otherwise might not uncertainty have converted a pleasure 
which ought to be so plain and so easy into an abstruse 
enigma } I chose the subject, as recalling the most ter- 
rible deed a patriot ever dared. The next is Marius, taken- 
by one of the Cimbri, who cannot resolve to kill so great a 
man. Marius, indeed, is an imposing figure ; the costume and 
physiognomy of the Cimbri leader extremely picturesque : 
it marks the second era of Rome, when laws were no more, 
but when genius still exerted a vast control. Next come 
the days in which glory led but to misfortune and insult. 



The third picture is BeHsarius, bearing his young guide, 
who had expired while asking alms for him : thus is the 
blind hero recompensed by his master; and in the world he 
vanquished hath no better office than that of carrying to 
the grave the sad remains of yon poor boy, his only faith- 
ful friend. Since the old school, I have seen no truer 
figure than that : the painter, like the poet, has loaded him 
with all kinds of miseries — too many, it may be, for com- 
passion. But what tells us that it is Belisarius ? what 
fidelity to history is exacted both of artist and spectator I 
a fidelity, by the way, often ruinous to the beautiful. In 
Brutus we look on virtues that resemble crime ; in Marius, 
on fame causing but distress ; in Belisarius, on services 
requited by the blackest persecution. Near these I have 
hung two pictures that console the oppressed spirit by 
reminding it of the piety that can cheer the broken 
heart, when all around is bondage. The first is Al- 
bano's infant Christ asleep on a cross. Does not that 
stainless, smiling face convince us that heavenly faith 
hath nought to fear from grief or death .f* The following 
one is Titian's Jesus bending under the weight of the 
cross. His mother on her knees before him : what a 
proof of reverence for the undeserved oppressions suf- 
fered by her Divine Son ! What a look of resignation is 
his ! yet what an air of pain, and therefore sympathy, with 
us ! That is the best of all my pictures ; to that I turn 
my eyes with rapture inexhaustible ; and now come my 
dramatic chefn-d'auwre drawn from the works of four 
great poets. There is the meeting of Dido and ^neas in 
the Elysian fields : her indignant shade avoids him ; re- 
joicing to be freed from the fond heart which yet would 
throb at his approach. The vaporous colour of the phan- 
toms, and the pale scenes around them, contrast the air of 
life in ^neas, and the Sibyl who conducts him ; but in 
these attempts the bard's description must far transcend 
all that the pencil reaches : in this of the dying Clorinda 
our tears are claimed by the remembered lines of Tasso, 
where she pardons the beloved Tancred, who has just dealt 
her the mortal wound. Painting inevitably sinks beneath 
poetry, when devoted to themes that great authors have 


already treated. One glance back at their words eflfaces all 
before us. Their favourite situations gain force from im- 
passioned eloquence ; while picturesque effect is most fa- 
voured by moments of repose, worthy to be indefinitely 
prolonged, and too perfect for the eye ever to weary of 
their grace. Your terrific Shakspeare^ my Lord_, aflTorded 
the ensuing subject. The invincible Macbeth, about to 
fight Macduff, learns that the witches have equivocated 
with him ; that Birnam wood is coming to Dunsinnane, 
and that his adversary was not of woman born, but * un- 
timely ripped' from his dying mother.* Macbeth is sub- 
dued by his fate, not by his foe ; his desperate hand still 
grasps its glaive, certain that he must fall, yet to the last 
opposing human strength against the might of demons. 
There is a world of fury and of troubled energy in that 
countenance : but how many of the poet's beauties do we 
lose } Can we paint Macbeth hurried into crime by the 
dreams of ambition, conjured up by the powers of sorcery } 
How express a terror compatible with intrepidity ; how 
characterise the superstition that oppresses him ? the 
ignoble credulity, which, even while he feels such scorn of 
life, forces on him such horror of death ! Doubtless the 
human face is the grandest of all mysteries ; yet fixed on 
canvass, it can hardly tell of more than one sensation; no 
struggle, no successive contrasts accessible to dramatic art, 
can painting give, as neither time nor motion exists for her. 
" Racine's Phedra forms the fourth picture. Hippolitus, 
in all the beauty of youth and innocence, repulses the per- 
fidious accusations of his stepmother. The heroic The- 
seus still protects his guilty wife, whom his conquering 
arms surround. Phedra's visage is agitated by impulses 
that we freeze to look on ; and her remorseless nurse en- 
courages her in guilt. Hippolitus is here even more lovely 
than in Racine ; more like to Meleager, as no love for 
Aricia here seems to mingle with his tameless virtue. 

* Madame de Stael says, " Macbeth apprend que I'oracle des sorcifercs s'e«t 
accompli; que Ic forC't de Birnam parait s'avaiicer vers Dunsinnane j et qu'il 
se bat avec un liomme ne depuis la mort de sa m§re." 

" LudicTous perversion of the authors meaninir ! " The points Shakspeare 
mtcnded to impress were, that " the wie d women," "juggling fiends, who palter 
with us in a double sense," had promised their victim success and lit'ei/7/ events 
which he naturally conceived impossible, but which they knew wottlU occur. 

I. 2 Tr 


But could Phedra have supported her falsehood in such a 
presence ? No^ she must have fallen at his feet : a vindic- 
tive woman may injure him she loves in absence, but_, 
while she looks on him_, that love must triumph. The 
poet never brings them together after she has slandered 
him. The painter was obliged to oppose them to each 
other ; but is not the distinction between the picturesque 
and the poetical proved by the fact, that verses copied 
from paintings are worth all the paintings that have imi- 
tated poetry ? Fancy must ever precede reason, as it 
does in the growth of the human mind." 

While Corinne spoke thus, she had frequently paused, 
hoping that Oswald would add his remarks ; but, as she 
made any feeling observation, he would merely sigh and 
turn away his head, to conceal his present disposition to- 
wards sadness. Corinne, at last discouraged by this silence, 
sat down and hid her face in her hands. Oswald hastily 
paced the apartment, and was just about to give his emo- 
tions way, when, with a sudden check of pride, he turned 
towards the pictures, as if expecting her to finish the ac- 
count of them. She had great hope in the last ; and 
making an effort to compose herself, rose, saying, " My 
Lord, there remain but three landscapes for me to show 
you ; two possess some interest. I do not Uke rural scenes 
that bear no allusion to fable or history ; they are insipid as 
the idyls of our poets. I prefer Salvator Rosa's style here, 
which gives you rocks, torrents, and trees, with not even 
the wing of a bird visible to remind you of Hfe ! The ab- 
sence 01 man, in the midst of nature, excites profound re- 
flections. What is this deserted scene, so vainly beautiful, 
whose mysterious charms address but the eye of their 
Creator? Here, on the contrary, history and poesy are 
happily united in a landscape. (3) This represents the 
moment when Cincinnatus is invited by the consuls to 
quit his plough, and take command of the Roman 
armies. All the luxury of the South is seen in this pic- 
ture, — abundant vegetation, burning sky, and an universal 
air of joy, that pervades even the aspect of the plants. See 
what a contrast is beside it. The son of Cairbar sleeps 
upon his father's tomb. Three nights he awaited the 


bard, who comes to honour the dead. His form is be- 
held afar, he descends the mountain's side. On the clouds 
floats the shade of the chief. The land is hoary with ice ; 
and the trees, as the rude winds war on their lifeless and 
withered arms, strew their sear leaves to the gale, and 
herald the course of the storm." Oswald, till now, had 
cherished his resentment ; but at the sight of this picture, 
the tomb of his father, the mountains of Scotland rose to 
his view, and his eyes filled with tears. Corinne took her 
harp, and sung one of those simple Scotch ballads whose 
notes seem fit to be borne on the wailing breeze. It was 
the soldier's farewell to his country and his love, in which 
recurred that most melodious and expressive of English 
phrases, "^ No more." * Corinne pronounced it so touch- 
ingly, that Oswald could resist no longer ; and they wept 
together. '^ Ah, Corirme ! " he cried, " does then my 
country affect your heart ? Could you go with me to the 
land peopled by my recollections ? Would you there be the 
worthy partner of my life, as you are here its enchantress } " 
— '^ I believe I could," she answered, ^' for I love you." — 
"In the name of love and pity then, have no more secrets from 
me." — " Your will shall be obeyed, Oswald : I promise it 
on one condition, that you ask not its fulfilment before the 
termination of our approaching religious solemnities. Is 
not the support of Heaven more than ever necessary at the 
moment which must decide my fate?" — " Corinne," he 
said, " if thy fate depends on me it shall no longer be a 
sad one," — " You think so," she rejoined; " but I have 
no such confidence, therefore indulge my weakness. " 
Oswald sighed, without granting or refusing the delay she 
asked. " Let us return to Rome now," she added. " I 
should tell you all in this solitude ; and if what I have to 
say must drive you from me, — need it be so soon } Come, 
Oswald ; you may revisit this scene when my ashes repose 
here." Melted and agitated, he obeyed. On their road they 
scarcely spoke a word, but now and then exchanged looks 
of affection ; yet a heavy melancholy oppressed them both, 
as they re-entered Rome. 

• I presume the " Adieu to Lochaber," though in that it is " nae mair." [Tr 
L 3 





The last day of the carnival is the gayest in the year. 
The Roman populace carry their rage for amusement to a 
perfect fever, unexampled elsewhere. The whole tovi^n is 
disguised ; the very gazers from its vrindows are masked. 
This begins regularly to the appointed day, neither public 
nor private affairs interfering with its indulgence. Then 
may one judge of the imagination possessed by the herd. 
Italian sounds sweetly even from their mouths. Alfieri 
said that he went to the market of Florence to learn good 
Italian. Rome has the same advantage ; and, perhaps, 
these are the only cities of which all the natives speak so 
well that the mind is feasted at every corner of the streets. 
The kind of gaiety that shines through their harlequinades 
is often found in the most uneducated men ; and during 
this festival, while exaggeration and caiicature are fair 
play, the most comic scenes perpetually riecur. Often a 
grotesque gravity contrasts the usually vivacious Italian 
manner, as if their strange dresses conferred an unnatural 
dignity on the wearers. Sometimes they evince so sur- 
prising a knowledge of mythology, in the travesties they 
assume, that one might suppose them still believers in its 
fictions. Most frequently, however, they ridicule the va- 
rious ranks of society with a pleasantry truly original : the 
nation is now a thousand times more distinguished by its 
sports than by its history. Italian lends itself so easily to 
all kinds of playfulness, that it needs but a slight inflexion 
of voice, a little difference of termination, lengthening or 
diminishing the words, to change the entire meaning of a 
sentence. The language comes with a peculiar grace from 
the lips of childhood. The innocence of that age, and the 

cobinne; or italy. 151 

natural archness of the southern tongue, exquisitely con- 
trast each other. (4) One may almost call it a language 
that talks of itself, and always seems more witty than its 

There is neither splendour nor taste in the carnival : 
its universal tumult assimilates it in the fancy with the 
bacchanalian orgies ; but in the fancy only ; for the Ro- 
mans are generally sober and serious enough — the last 
days of this fete excepted. Then one makes such varied 
and sudden discoveries in their character, as have con- 
tributed to give them a reputation for cunning. Doubt- 
less, there is a great habit of feigning among people who 
have borne so many yokes ; but we must not always at- 
tribute their rapid changes of manner to dissimulation. 
Inflammable imagination is as oft its cause. Reasoners may 
readily foresee their own actions ; but all that belongs to 
fancy is unexpected : she overleaps gradations ; a trifle 
may wound her, or that which ought to move her most 
be past by with indifference ; she 's her own world, and in 
it there is no calculating effects by causes. For instance, 
we wonder what entertainment the Roman nobles find in 
driving from one end of the Corso to the other for hours 
together, every day in the year, yet nothing breaks in on this 
custom. Among the masks, too, may be found wandering 
victims to ennui, packed up in the drollest of dresses, sad 
harlequins, and silent clowns, who satisfy their carnival 
conscience by merely seeking to divert themselves. In 
Rome they have one assumption that no where else exists 
maskers, who in their own persons, copy the antique statues, 
and from a distance perfectly realise their beauty. Many of 
the women are losers by renouncing this disguise. Never- 
theless, to behold hfe imitating motionless marble, however 
gracefully, strikes one with fear. The carriages of the 
great and gay throng the streets ; but the charm of these 
festivities is their saturnalian confusion : all classes are 
mingled ; the gravest magistrates ride among the masks 
with almost official assiduity. All the windows are de- 
corated, and all the world out of doors : the pleasure of the 
populace consists not in their spectacles nor their feasts ; 
they commit no excess, but revel solely in the delight of 
L 4 

15i2 corinne; or italy. 

mixing freely with their betters, who, on their parts, are 
as diverted at finding themselves thrown among those be- 
neath them. Only the refined and delicate pleasures that 
spring from research and education can build up barriers 
between different ranks. Italy, as hath been said, is more 
distinguished by universal talent than by its cultivation 
among the aristocracy. Therefore, during the carnival, 
all minds and all manners blend : the shouting crowds 
that indiscriminately shower their bonbons on the passers 
by confound the whole nation pell-mell, as if no social 
order remained. Corinne and Nevil arrived in the midst 
of this uproar : at first it stunned them ; for nothing ap- 
pears stranger than such activity of noisy enjoyment, 
while the soul is pensively retired within herself. They 
stopped in the Piazza del Popolo, to ascend the amphi- 
theatre near the obelisk, thence to overlook the horse-racing : 
as they ahghted from their calash, the Count d'Erfeuil 
perceived them, and took Oswald aside, saying, ^' How 
can you show yourself thus publicly returning from the 
country with Corinne? You will commit her, and then what 
can you do?" — "I think I shall not commit her," re- 
turned he, '^ by showing my affection ; if I do, I shall be 
but too happy, in the devotion of my life — " — " Happy ! " 
interrupted d'Erfeuil ; " don't believe it ! one can only be 
happy in becoming situations. Society, do what we will, 
has a great influence ; and what society would disapprove 
ought never to be attempted." — " Then," replied Oswald, 
" our own thoughts and feelings are to guide us less than 
the words of others. If it were our duty thus constantly 
to follow the million, what need has any individual with a 
heart or a soul? — Providence might have spared us from 
such superfluities." — '' Very philosophical," replied the 
Count ; " but such maxims ruin a man ; and when love is 
over, he is left to the censure of the world. Flighty as 
you think me, I would not risk it, on any account. We 
may allow ourselves the little freedoms and good-natured 
jests of independent thinkers, but in our actions such 
liberties become serious." — " And are not love and hap- 
piness serious considerations ? " asked Nevil. — "■ That is 
nothing to the purpose ; there are certain established forms 

cobinne; or italy. 153 

which you cannot brave without passing for an eccentric ; 
for a man — in fact — you understand me — unlike other 
men." Lord Nevil smiled, and without either pain or 
displeasure rallied d'Erfeuil on his frivolous severity : he 
rejoiced to feel, for the first time, that on a subject which had 
cost him so much, the Count's advice had not the slightest 
power. Corinne guessed what had past, but Oswald's 
smile restored her composure ; and this conversation tended 
but to put them both in spirits for the fete. Nevil ex- 
pected to see a Race like those of England ; but was sur- 
prised to learn that small Barbary steeds were about to 
make the contest of speed without riders. This is a very 
favourite sport with the Romans. 

When it was about to commence, the crowd ranged 
themselves on each side of the street. The Place, late so 
thronged, was emptied in a minute : every one hurried to 
the stands which surrounded the obelisks ; while a mul- 
titude of black heads and eyes were turned towards the 
barrier from which the barbs were to start. They appeared, 
without bridle or saddle, their backs covered by bright-hued 
stuffs : they were led by well-dressed grooms, passionately 
interested in their success. As the animals reach the 
barrier, their eagerness for release is almost uncontrollable : 
they rear, neigh, and paw the earth, as if impatient for the 
glory they are about to win, without the aid or guidance 
of man. Their prancing, and the rapturous cry of " Room, 
room ! " as the barrier falls, have a perfectly theatrical 
effect. The grooms are aU voice and gesture, as long as 
their steeds remain in sight ; the creatures are as jealous 
as mankind of one another ; the sparks fly beneath their 
feet ; their manes float wildly on the breeze ; and such is 
their desire to reach the goal, that some have fallen there 
dead. To look on these free things, all animated by per- 
sonal passion, is astounding — as if one beheld Thought 
itself flying in that fine shape. The crowd break their 
ranks as the horses pass, and follow them in tumult. The 
Venetian palace ends the race ; then may be heard ex- 
clamations of disappointment from those whose horses have 
been beaten ; while he whose darling has deserved the 
greatest prize throws himself on his knees before the 



victor, thanking and recommending him to St. Anthony, 
patron of the brute creation, with an enthusiasm as seriously 
felt as it is comically expressed. The races usually con- 
clude the day. Then begins another kind of amusement, 
less attractive, but equally loud. The windows are illu- 
minated ; the guards leave their posts, to share the general 
joy. Every one carries a little torch, called moccolo, and 
every one tries to extinguish his neighbour's, repeating the 
word " ammazare" (kill), with formidable vivacity. " Kill 
the fair princess ! let the Lord Abbot be killed ! " The 
multitude, re-assured by the interdiction of horses and car- 
riages at that hour, pour forth from every quarter ; all is 
turmoil and clamour ; yet, as night advances, this ceases 
by degrees : the deepest silence succeeds. The remem- 
brance of this evening is like that of a confused vision, 
which, for awhile, changed every dreamer's existence, and 
made the people forget their toil, the learned their studies, 
and the nobles their sloth. 


Oswald, since his misfortunes, had never regained suf- 
ficient courage voluntarily to hear music. IJe dreaded those 
ravishing sounds, so agreeable to melancholy, but which 
prove so truly injurious while we are weighed down by real 
calamities. Music revives the recollections it would ap. 
pease. When Corinne sang, Oswald listened to the words 
she pronounced ; gazed on her expressive features, and 
thought of nothing but her. Yet if, of an evening, in the 
streets, he heard many voices united to sing the sweet airs 
of celebrated composers, as is often the case in Ital}, though 
inclined to pause, he soon withdrew, alarmed by the strong 
yet indefinite emotion which renewed his sorrows. But a 
concert was about to be given at the theatre of Rome, con- 
centrating the talents of the first singers in Italy. Corinne 
asked Nevil to accompany her thither: he consented, hoping 
that her presence would soften all the pangs he must endure. 


On entering her box, she was immediately recognised; 
and a remembrance of her coronation, adding to the interest 
she usually created, all parts of the house resounded with 
applause, and cries of " Fiva Corinne!" The musicians 
themselves, electrified by this unanimous sensation, sent 
forth strains of victory ; for triumph, of whatever kind, 
awakens in our recollection " the pomp and circumstance 
of glorious war." Corinne was much moved by these tes- 
timonies of admiring affection. The indescribable im- 
pression always made by a human mass, simultaneously 
expressing the same sentiment, so deeply touched her heart, 
that she could not restrain her tears: her boscm heaved 
beneath her dress; and Oswald, with a sense of pique, 
whispered, " You must not, Madame, be torn from such 
success : it outvalues love, since it makes your heart beat 
thus ; " he then retired to the back of the box, without 
waiting for her answer. In one instant had he swept 
away all the pleasure which she had owed to a reception 
prized most because he was its witness. 

Those who have not heard Italian singing can form no 
idea of music. The human voice is soft and sweet as the 
flowers and skies. This charm was made but for such a 
cHme : each reflect the other. The world is the work of a 
single thought, expressed in a thousand different ways. The 
Italians have ever devotedly loved music. Dante, in his 
Purgatory, meets the best singer of his day, and asks him 
for one of his deHcious airs. The entranced spirits forget 
themselves as they hear it, until their guardian recalls them 
to the truth. The Christians, like the Pagans, believe the 
empire of music to extend beyond the grave : of all the fine 
arts, none act so immediately upon the soul : the others 
direct it towards such or such ideas ; but this alone ad- 
dresses the very source of life, and transforms the whole 
being at once, humanly speaking, as Divine Grace is said to 
change the heart. Among all our presentiments of futurity, 
those to which melody gives birth are not the least worthy 
of reverence. Even the mirth excited by buffo singing is 
not vulgar, but fanciful ; beneath it lie poetic reveries, such 
as spoken wit never yet created. Music is so volatile a 
pleasure, — we are so sensible that it escapes from us even 



as we enjoy it, — that it always leaves a tender impression 
on the mind ; yet, when expressive of grief, it sheds gen- 
tleness even over despair. The heart beats more quickly to 
its regular measure, and, reminding us of life's brevity, bids 
us enjoy what we can : the silent void is filled ; you feel 
within yourself the active energies that fear no obstacle 
from without. Music doubles our computation of our own 
faculties, and makes us feel capable of the noblest efforts ; 
teaches us to march towards death with enthusiasm, and is 
happily powerless to explain any base or artful sentiment. 
Music lifts from the breast the weight it so often feels 
beneath serious affections, and which we take for the hea- 
viness of life, so habitual is its pressure : we hang on such 
pure sounds, till we seem to discover the secrets of the 
Eternal, and penetrate the mysteries of nature : no words 
can explain this ; for words but copy primitive sensations, 
as prose translators follow poetry. Looks alone resemble 
its effect : the long look of love, that gradually sinks into 
the breast, till one's eyes fall, unable to support so vast a 
bliss, lest this ray from another's soul should consume us. 

The admirable union of two voices perfectly in tune pro- 
duces an ecstasy that cannot be prolonged without pain : it 
is a blessing too great for humanity, which vibrates like an 
instrument broken beneath too perfect a harmony. Oswald 
had remained perversely apart from Corinne during the 
first act of the concert ; but when the di^ets began in low 
Voices, accompanied by the notes of clarionets and hautboys, 
purer even than their own, Corinne veiled her face, absorbed 
by emotion ; she wept without suffering, and loved without 
dread ; the image of Oswald was in her bosom ; but a host 
of thoughts wandered too far to be distinct, even to herself. 
It is said that a prophet, in one moment, explored seven 
regions of heaven. Whoever can thus conceive the all 
which an instant may contain must have heard sweet 
music beside the object of his love. Oswald felt its power ; 
his resentment decreased : the tenderness of Corinne ex- 
plained and justified every thing ; he drew near her ; she 
heard him breathing close by, at the most enchanting period 
of this celestial harmony : it was too much ; the most 
pathetic tragedy could not have so overwhelmed her as did 


the sense of their both being equally penetrated by the same 
sounds, at the same instant : each fresh tone exalted this 
consciousness. The words sung were nothing ; now and 
then alksions to love and death induced some recollection; 
but oftener did music alone suggest and realise the formless 
wish, as doth some pure and tranquil star, wherein we seem 
to see the image of all we could desire on earth. *' Let us 
go," sighed Corinne : '' I feel fainting." — " What is it, 
love ? " asked Oswald, anxiously : " you are pale. Come 
into the air with me." They went together : her strength 
returned, as she leaned upon his arm ; and she faltered 
forth, " Dear Oswald, I am about to leave you for eight 
xlays." — '^ What say you ? " he cried. — '' Every year," she 
answered, " I spend Passion week in a convent, to prepare 
for Easter." Oswald could not oppose, aware that most of 
the Roman ladies devoted themselves to pious severities at 
that time, even if careless of religion during the rest of the 
year ; but he remembered that Corinne's faith and his own 
were not the same ; they could not pray together. " Why 
are you not my countrywoman ? " he exclaimed. — " Our 
souls have but one country," she replied. — '^ True," he 
said ; " yet I cannot the less feel every thing that divides 
us." And this coming absence so dismayed him, that neither 
to Corinne, nor the friends who now joined them, could he 
speak another word that evening. 


Oswald called at Corinne's house early next day, in some 
uneasiness : her maid gave him a note, announcing her 
mistress's retirement to the convent that morning, and that 
she could not see him till after Good Friday. She confessed 
that she had not the courage to tell him the whole of this 
,truth the night before. Oswald was struck as by an un- 
expected blow. The house in which he had always found 
Corinne now appeared sadly lone : her harp, books, draw- 
ings, all her household gods were there, but she was gone 


A shudder crept through his veins : he thought on the 
chamber of his father, and sunk upon a seat. "It may 
be," he cried, '' that I shall live to lose her too — that ani- 
mated mind, that warm heart, that form so brilliantly 
fresh : the holt may strike, and the tomb of youth is mute 
as that of age. What an illusion, then, is happiness ! In- 
flexible Time, who watches ever o'er his prey, may tear it 
from us in a moment. Corinne ! Corinne ! why didst thou 
leave me ? Thy magic alone can still my memory : dazzled 
by the hours of rapture passed with thee — but now — I 
am alone. I am again my wretched, wretched self !" He 
called upon Corinne with a desperation disproportionate to 
such brief absence, but attributable to the habitual anguish 
of his heart. The maid, Theresina, heard his groans, and 
gratified by this regret for her mistress, re-entered, saying, 
" My Lord, for your consolation, I will even betray a secret 
of my lady's : I hope she will forgive me. Come to her 
bed-room, and you shall see your own portrait!" — " My 

portrait ! " he repeated " Yes ; she drew it from memory, 

and has risen, for the last week, at five in the morning, to 
have it finished before she went to the convent." The 
likeness was very strong, and painted with perfect grace. 
This pledge, indeed, consoled him : facing it was an ex- 
quisite Madonna, before which Corinne had formed her 
oratory. This '' love and religion mingled," exists in Italy 
under circumstances far more extraordinary ; for the image 
of Oswald was associated but with the purest hopes of his 

Yet thus to place it near so divine an emblem, and to 
prepare herself for a convent by a week of such occupation, 
were traits that rather characterised Corinne's country 
than herself. Italian women are devout from sensibility, 
not principle ; and nothing was more hostile to Oswald's 
opinions than , their manner of thinking on this subject ; 
yet how could he blame Corinne, while receiving so touch- 
ing a proof of her affection ? His looks strayed tenderly 
through this chamber, where he now stood for the first 
time. At the head of the bed he beheld the miniature of 
an aged man, evidently not an Italian : two bracelets hung 
near it, one formed by braids of black and of silver hair. 


the other of beautifully fair tresses, that, by a strange 
chance, reminded him of Lucy EJgarmond's, which he had 
attentively remarked three years since. Oswald did not 
speak ; but Theresina, as if to banish any jealous suspicion, 
told him, ^' that during the eleven years she had lived with 
her lady she had always seen these bracelets, which she 
knew contained the hair of Corinne's father, mother, and 
sister." — "Eleven years!" cried Oswald ; ^'^ you were 
then — " he checked himself, blushing at the question he 
had begun, and precipitately left the house that he might 
escape further temptation. He frequently turned back to 
gaze on the windows, and when he lost sight of them he 
felt all the misery of solitude. That evening he went to 
an assembly, in search of something to divert his thoughts; 
for in grief, as joy, reverie can only be indulged by those 
at peace with themselves; but society was insupportable: he 
was more than ever convinced that for him Corinne alone had 
lent it charms, by the void which her absence rendered it 
now. He attempted to chat with the ladies, who replied 
by those insipid phrases which, explaining nothing, are so 
convenient for those who have something to conceal. He 
saw groups of men, who, by their voices and gestures, 
seemed warmly discussing some important topic : he drew 
near, and found the matter of their discourse as despicable 
as its manner. He mused over this causeless, aimless, 
vivacity, so frequently found in large parties : — though 
Italian mediocrity is a good sort of animal enough, with 
but little jealous vanity, much regard for superior minds, 
and, if fatiguing them by dulness, at least never wounding 
them by pretence. Such was the society that, a few days 
since, Oswald had found so interesting. The slight ob- 
stacles which it opposed to his conversation with Corinne ; 
her anxiety to be near him, as soon as she had been suffi- 
ciently polite to others ; the intelligence existing between 
them on subjects suggested by their company ; her pride, 
in speaking before him, to whom she indirectly addressed 
remarks, he alone could fully understand. All this had 
varied his evenings: every part of these same halls brought 
back the pleasant hours which had persuaded him that 
there might be some amusement even at an assembly. 



" Oh I" he sighed, as he left it^ '' here, as elsewhere, she 
alone can give us life ; let me fly rather to some desert 
spot till she returns. I shall less sadly feel her absence, 
where nought is near me that resembles pleasure." 




Oswald passed next day in the gardens of the monasteries 
going first to that of the Carthusians, and paused, ere he 
entered, to examine two Egyptian lions at a httle distance 
from its gate. There is something in their physiognomy 
belonging neither to animals nor to man : it is as if two 
heathen gods had been represented in this shape. Char- 
treux is built on the ruins of Diocletian's baths ; and its 
church is adorned by the granite pillars which were found 
there. The monks show this place with much zeal ; they 
belong to the world but by their interest in its ruins. 
Their way of Hfe presupposes either very hmited minds 
or the most exalted piety. The monotony of their routine 
recalls that celebrated line, — 

" Time o'er wrecked worlds sleeps motionless." 

Their life seems but to be employed in contemplating 
death. Quickness of thought, in so uniform an existence, 
would be the crudest of tortures. In the midst of the 
cloister stand two cypresses, whose heavy blackness the 
wind can scarcely stir. Near them is an almost unheard 
fountain, slow and chary; — fit hour-glass for a seclusion in 
which time gHdes so noiselessly. Sometimes the moon's 
pale gUmmer penetrates these shades — its absence or return 
forming quite an event ; and yet these monks might have 

corinne; or italy. 16i 

found all the activity of war insufficient for their spirits, 
had they been used to it. What an inexhaustible field for 
conjecture we find in the combinations of human destiny ! 
What habits are thrust on us by chance, forming each in- 
dividual's world and history. To know another perfectly, 
would cost the study of a life. What, then, is meant by 
knowledge of mankind? Governed they may be by each 
other, but understood by God alone. 

Oswald went next to the monastery of Bonaventure, 
built on the ruins of Nero's palace : and where so many 
crimes had reigned remorselessly, poor friars, tormented 
by conscientious scruples, doom themselves to fasts and 
stripes for the least omission of duty. '^ Our only hope," 
said one, '' is, that, when we die, our faults will not have 
exceeded our penances." Nevil, as he entered, stumbled 
over a trap, and asked its purpose. *' It is through that 
we are interred," answered one of the youngest, already a 
prey to the bad air. The natives of the South fear death 
so much, that it is wondrous to find there these perpetual 
mementos : yet nature is often fascinated by what she 
dreads ; and such an intoxication fills the soul exclusively. 
The antique sarcophagus of a child serves as the fountain 
of this institution. The boasted palm of Rome is the 
only tree of its garden ; but the monks pay no attention to 
external objects. Their rigorous discipline allows them 
no mental liberty; their downcast eyes and stealthy pace 
show that they have forgotten the use of free will, and 
abdicated the government of self, — an empire which may 
well be called a ' heritage of woe ! ' This retreat, however, 
acted but feebly on the mind of Oswald. Imagination re- 
volts at so manifest a desire to remind it of death in every 
possible way. When such remembrancers are unexpected, 
when nature, and not man, suggests them, the impression 
is far more salutary. Oswald grew calmer as he strayed 
through tlie garden of San Giovanni et Paulo, whose 
brethren are subjected to exercises less austere. Their 
dwelling lords over all the ruins of old Rome. What a 
site for such asylum ! The recluse consoles himself for 
his nothingness, in contemplating the wrecks of ages past 




away. Oswald walked long beneath the shady trees^ so 
rare in Italy : sometimes they intercepted his view of the 
city^ only to augment the pleasure of his next glimpse at 
it. All the steeples now sounded the Ave Maria, — 

• * * *' squilla de lontaiio 

Chepaja il giorno pianger, che si muore." — Dante. 

" The bell from far mourneth the dying day." This even- 
ing prayer serves to mark all time. " I will meet you an 
hour before,, or an hour after Ave Maria/' say the Italians, 
so devoutly are the eras of night and day distinguished. 
Oswald then enjoyed the spectacle of sunset, as the lumi- 
nary sunk slowly amid ruins, and seemed submitting to 
decline, even like the works of man. This brought back 
all his wonted thoughts. The image of Corinne appeared 
too promising, too hopeful, for such a moment. His soul 
sought for its father's, in the home of heavenly spirits. 
This affection animated the clouds on which he gazed, and 
lent them the sublime aspect of his immortal friend ; he 
trusted that his prayers at last might call down some bene- 
ficent pity, resembling a good father's benediction. 


Oswald, in his anxiety to study the religion of the 
country, resolved to hear some of its preachers, during 
Passion-week. He counted the days that must elapse ere 
his reunion with Corinne ; while she was away he could 
endure no imaginative researches. He forgave his own hap- 
piness while beside her ; but all that charmed him then 
would have redoubled the pangs of his exile. 

It is at night, and by half-extinguished tapers, that the 
preachers, at this period, hold forth. AH the women are in 
black, to commemorate the death of Jesus : there is some- 
thing very affecting in these yearly ,_ weeds, that have been 
renewed for so many centuries. One enters the noble 
churches with true emotion ; their tombs prepare us for 
serious thought, but the preacher too often dissipates all 

corinne; or italy. l63 

this in an instant. His pulpit is a somewhat long tribunal, 
from one end to the other of which he walks, with a 
strangely mechanical agitation. He fails not to start with 
some phrase to which, at the end of the sentence, he re- 
turns, like a pendulum; though, by his impassioned ges- 
tures, you would think him very likely to forget it : but 
this is a systematic fury, " a fit of regular and voluntary 
distraction," often seen in Italy, and indicating none but 
superficial or artificial feehngs. A crucifix is hung in the 
pulpit ; the preacher takes it down, kisses, presses it in his 
arms, and then hangs it up again, with perfect coolness, as 
soon as the pathetic passage is got through. Another 
method for producing effect is pulling off and putting on 
his cap, with inconceivable rapidity. One of these men 
attacked Voltaire and Rousseau on the scepticism of the 
age. He threw his cap into the middle of the rostrum, as 
the representative of Jean Jacques, and then cried, '^ Now, 
philosopher of Geneva, what have you to say against my 
arguments ? " He was silent for some seconds, as if ex- 
pecting a reply ; but, as the cap said nothing, he replaced 
it on his head, and terminated the discourse by adding, — 
" Well, since I've convinced you, let us say no more about 
it." These uncouth scenes are frequent in Rome, where 
real pulpit oratory is extremely rare. Rehgion is there 
respected as an all-powerful law ; its ceremonies captivate 
the senses ; but its preachers deal less in morals than in 
dogmas, that never reach the heart. Eloquence, in this, 
as in many other branches of literature, is there devoted 
to common-places, that can neither describe nor explain. 
A new thought raises a kind of rebellion in minds at once 
so ardent and so languid, that they need uniformity to calm 
them ; and love it for the repose it brings. There is an 
etiquette in these sermons, by which words take prece- 
dence of ideas ; and this order would be deranged, if the 
preacher spoke from his own heart, or searched his soul fo 
what he ought to say. Christian philosophy, which finds 
analogies between religion and humanity, is as little under- 
stood in Italy, as philosophy of every other sort. To spe- 
culate on rehgion is deemed almost as scandalous as 
scheming against it ; so wedded are all men to mere forms 
M 2 

l64 cobinne; or italy. 

and old usages'. The worship of the Virgin is particularly 
dear to southern people ; it seems allied to all that is most 
chaste and tender in their love of woman; but every 
preacher treats this subject with the same exaggerated rhe- 
toric, unconscious that his gestures perpetually turn it 
into ridicule. There is scarcely to be heard_, from one 
Itahan pulpit_, a single specimen of correct accent_, or na- 
tural delivery. 

Oswald fled from this most fatiguing of inflictions — that 
of affected vehemence — and sought the Coliseum, where a 
Capuchin was to preach in the open air, at the foot of an 
altar, in the centre of the enclosure which marks the road 
to the cross. What a theme were this arena, where mar- 
tyrs succeeded gladiators : but there was no hope of hear- 
ing it dilated on by the poor capuchin, who knew nothing 
of the history of man, save in his own life. Without, 
however, coming there to hear his bad sermon, Oswald 
felt interested by the objects around him. The congre- 
gation was principally composed of the CamaldoUne fra- 
ternity, at that time attired in grey gowns that covered 
both head and body, leaving but two little openings for the 
eyes, and having a most ghostly air. Their unseen faces 
were prostrated to the earth ; they beat their breasts ; and 
when their preacher threw himself on his knees, crying — 
^'^ Mercy and pity ! " they followed his example. As this 
appeal from wretchedness to compassion, from earth to 
Heaven, echoed through the classic porticoes, it was im- 
possible not to experience a deeply pious feeling in the 
soul's inmost sanctuary. Oswald shuddered ; he remained 
standing, that he might not pretend to a faith which was 
not his own ; yet it cost him an effort to forbear from this 
fellowship with mortals, whoever they were, thus hum- 
bling themselves before their God; — for, does not an invo- 
cation to heavenly sympathy equally become us all } 

The people were struck by his noble and foreign aspect, 
but not displeased with his omitting to join them ; for no 
men on earth can be more tolerant than the Romans. 
They are accustomed to persons who come amongst them 
but as sight-seers ; and, either from pride or indolence, 
never seek to make strangers participate their opinions-. 


It is a still more extraordinary fact, that_, at this period 
especially, there are many who take on themselves the 
strictest punishments ; yet, while the scourge is in their 
hands, the church-door is still open, and every stranger 
welcome to enter as usual. They do nothing for the sake 
of being looked at, nor are they frightened from any 
thing because they happen to be seen ; they proceed to- 
wards their own aims, or pleasures, without knowing that 
there is such a thing as vanity, whose only aim and plea- 
sure consists in the applause of others. 


Much has been said of Passion-week in Rome. A num- 
ber of foreigners arrive during Lent, to enjoy this spec- 
tacle ; and as the music at the Sixtine Chapel, and the 
illumination of St. Peter's, are unique of their kinds, they 
naturally attract much curiosity, which is not always satis- 
fied. The dinner served by the Pope to the twelve 
representatives of the Apostles, whose feet he bathes, must 
recall solemn ideas ; yet a thousand inevitable circum- 
stances often destroy their dignity. All the contributors 
to these customs are not equally absorbed by devotioi^; 
ceremonies so oft repeated become mechanical to most of 
their agents ; the young priests hurry over the service 
with a dextrous activity any thing but imposing. All the 
mysteries that should veil religion are dissipated, by the at- 
tention we cannot help giving to the manner in which each 
performs his function. The avidity of the one party for 
the meat set before them, the indifference of the other to 
their prayers and genuflections, deprive the whole of its 
due sublimity. 

The ancient costumes stiU worn by the ecclesiastics ill 
accord with their modern heads. The bearded Patriarch 
of the Greek Church is the most venerable figure left for 
such offices. The old fashion, too, of men curtseying like 
women is dangerous to decorum. The past and the pre- 
M 3 


sent, indeed, rather jostle than harmonise ; Httle care is 
taken to strike the imagination, and none to prevent its 
being distracted. A worship so brilliantly majestic in its 
externals is certainly well fitted to elevate the soul; but 
more caution should be observed, lest its ceremonies de- 
generate into plays, in which the actors get by rote what 
they have to do, and at what time ; when to pray, when to 
have done praying; when to kneel, and when to rise. 
Court rules introduced at church restrain that soaring 
elasticity which alone can give man hope of drawing near 
his Maker. 

The generality of foreigners observe this; yet few Ro- 
mans but yearly find fresh pleasure in these sacred fetes. 
It is a peculiarity in Itahan character, that versatility of 
taste leads not to inconstancy ; and that vivacity removes 
all necessity for truth ; it deems every thing more grand, 
more beautiful than reality. The Italians, patient and 
persevering even in their amusements, let imagination em- 
bellish what they possess, instead of bidding them crave 
what they have not : and as elsewhere vanity teaches 
men to seem fastidious^ in Italy, warmth of temperament 
makes it a pleasure to admire. 

After all the Romans had said to Nevil of their Passion- 
week, he had expected much more than he had found. 
He sighed for the august simplicity of the English Church, 
and returned home discontented with himsdf, for not hav- 
ing been affected by that which he ought to have felt. In 
such cases we fancy that the soul is withered, and fear that 
we have lost that enthusiasm, without which reason itself 
would serve but to disgust us with life. 


Good Friday restored all the religious emotions of Lord 
Nevil ; he was about to regain Corinne : the sweet hopes of 
love blended with that piety, from which nothing save the 
factitious career of the world can entirely wean us. He 


sought the Sixtine Chapel, to hear the far-famed Miserere. 
It was yet light enough for him to see the pictures of 
Michael Angelo. The Day of Judgment, treated by a 
genius worthy so terrible a subject. Dante had infected 
this painter with the bad taste of representing mythological 
beings in the presence of Christ ; but it is chiefly as demons 
that he has characterised these Pagan creations. Beneath 
the arches of the roof are seen the prophets and heathen 
priestesses, called as witnesses by the Christians {teste David 
cum Syhilla) ; a host of angels surround them. The roof 
is painted as if to bring heaven nearer to us ; but that 
heaven is gloomy and repulsive. Day scarcely penetrates 
the windows, which throw on the pictures more shadows 
than beams. This dimness, too, enlarges the already com- 
manding figures of Michael Angelo. The funereal perfume 
of incense fills the aisles, and every sensation prepares us 
for that deeper one which awaits the touch of music. 
While Oswald was lost in these reflections, he beheld Co- 
rinne, whom he had not expected yet to see, enter that 
part of the chapel devoted to females, and separated by a 
grating from the rest. She was in black ; pale with ab- 
stinence, and so tremulous, as she perceived him, that she 
was obliged to support herself by the balustrade. At this 
moment the Miserere commenced. Voices well practised in 
this pure and antique chant rose from an unseen gallery; 
every instant rendered the chapel darker. The music 
seemed to float in the air ; no longer in the voluptuously 
impassioned strains which the lovers had heard together a 
week since, but such as seemed bidding them renounce all 
earthly things. Corinne knelt before the grate. Oswald 
himself was forgotten. At such a moment she would have 
loved to die. If the separation of soul and body were but 
pangless ; if an angel would bear away thought and feeling 
on his wings, — divine sparks that shall return to their 
source, — death would be then the heart's spontaneous act, 
an ardent prayer most mercifully granted. The verses of 
this psalm are sung alternately, and in very contrasted 
styles. The heavenly harmony of one is answered by 
murmured recitative, heavy and even harsh, like the reply 
of worldHngs to the appeal of sensibility, or the realities of 
M 4 


life defeating the vows of generous souls : when the soft 
choir reply, hope springs again, again to be frozen by that 
dreary sound which inspires not terror, but utter discou- 
ragement ; yet the last burst, most reassuring of all, leaves 
just the stainless and exquisite sensation in the soul which 
we would pray to be accorded when we die. The lights 
are extinguished; night advances ; the pictures gleam like 
prophetic phantoms through the dusk ; the deepest silence 
reigns : speech would be insupportable in this state of 
self-communion ; every one steals slowly away, reluctant 
to resume the vulgar interests of the world. 

Corinne followed the procession to St. Peter's, as yet 
illumined but by a cross of fire : this type of grief shining 
alone through the immense obscure, fair image of Chris- 
tianity amid the shades of life ! A wan Hght falls over the 
statues on the tombs. The living, who throng these arches, 
appear but pigmies, compared with the effigies of the dead. 
Around the cross is a space cleared, where the Pope, ar- 
rayed in white, with all the cardinals behind him, prostrate 
themselves to the earth, and remain nearly half an hour 
profoundly mute. None hear what they request ; but they 
are old, going before us towards the tomb, whither we 
must follow. Grant us, O God ! the grace so to ennoble 
age, that the last days of life may be the first of immor- 
tality. Corinne, too, the young and lovely Corinne, knelt 
near the priests ; the mild light weakened not the lustre 
of her eyes. Oswald looked on her as an entrancing pic- 
ture, as well as an adored woman. Her orison concluded, 
she rose : her lover dared not approach, revering the me- 
ditations in which he believed her still plunged ; but she 
came to him, with all the rapture of reunion : happiness 
was so shed over her every action, that she received the 
greetings of her friends with unwonted gaiety. St. Peter's, 
indeed, had suddenly become a public promenade, where 
every one made appointments of business or of pleasure. 
Oswald v/as astonished at this power of running from one 
extreme to another; and, much as he rejoiced in the vivacity 
of Corinne, he felt surprised at her thus instantly banishing 
all traces of her late emotions. He could not conceive 
how this glorious edifice, on so solemn a day, could be 



converted into the Cafe of Rome, where people met for 
amusement ; and seeing Corinne encircled by admirers, to 
whom she chatted cheerfully, as if no longer conscious 
where she stood, he felt some mistrust as to the levity of 
which she might be capable. She read his thoughts, and 
hastily breaking from her party, took his arm to walk the 
church with him, saying, '' I have never spoken to you of 
my religious sentiments ; let me do so now ; perhaps I 
may thus disperse the clouds I see rising in your mind." 


'' The difference of our creeds, my dear Oswald," con- 
tinued Corinne, " is the cause of the unspoken displeasure 
you cannot prevent me from detecting. Your faith is 
serious and severe, ours lively and tender. It is generally 
believed that my church is the most rigorous : it may be 
so, in a country where struggles exist between the two ; 
but here we have no doctrinal dissensions. England has 
experienced many. The result is, that Catholicism here 
has taken an indulgent character, such as it cannot have 
where Reformation is armed against it. Our religion, like 
that of the ancients, animates the arts, inspires the poets, 
and makes part of all the joys of life ; while yours, esta- 
blished in a country where reason predominates over fancy, 
is stamped with a moral sternness that will never be effaced. 
Ours calls on us in the name of love ; yours in that of 
duty. Your principles are liberal ; our dogmas bigoted : 
yet our orthodox despotism has some fellowship with private 
circumstances; and your religious liberty exacts respect for 
its own laws, without any exception. It is true that our 
monastics undergo sad hardships, but they choose them 
freely ; their state is a mysterious engagement between God 
and man. Among the secular Catholics here, love, hope, 
and faith are the chief virtues ; all announcing, all bestow- 
ing peace. Far from our priests forbidding us to rejoice, 
they tell us that we thus evince our gratitude for the gifts 


of Heaven. They enjoin us to practise charity and repent- 
ance^ as proofs of our respect for our faith^ and our desire 
to please its founder ; but they refuse us not the absolution 
we zealously implore ; and the errors of the heart meet 
here a mercy elsewhere denied. Did not our Saviour tell 
the Magdalene that much should be pardoned to the great- 
ness of her love ? As fair a sky as ours echoed these words: 
shall we then despair of our Creator's pity?" — " Corinne^" 
returned Nevil^ " how can I combat arguments so sweety 
so needful to me? and yet I must. It is not for a day. I 
love Corinne ; to her I look for a long futurity of content 
and virtue. The purest religion is that which sacrifices 
passion to duty, as a continual homage to the Supreme 
Being. A moral life is the best offering. We degrade the 
Creator by attributing to him a wish that tends not towards 
Ofur intellectual perfection. Paternity, that godlike symbol 
of faultless sway, seeks but to render its children better 
and happier. How, then, suppose that God demands of 
man, actions that have not the welfare of man for their 
object ? what confused notions spring from the habit of 
attaching more importance to religious ceremonies than to 
active worth ! You know that it is just after Passion-week 
the greatest number of murders are committed in Rome. 
The long fast has, in more senses than one, put its 
votaries in possession of funds, and they spend the trea- 
sures of their penitence in assassinations. ' The most dis- 
gusting criminal here scruples to eat meat on Fridays ; 
convinced that the greatest of crimes were that of disobey- 
ing the ordinances of the Church : all conscience is la- 
vished on that point; as if the Divinity were like one 
of this world's rulers, who preferred flattering submission 
to faithful service. Is this .behaviour to be 
substituted for the respect we owe the Eternal, as the 
source and the recompence of a forbearing and spotless 
life ? The external demonstrations of Italian Catholicism 
excuse the soul from all interior piety. The spectacle 
over, the feeling ends — the duty is done ; no one remains, 
as with us, long occupied by thoughts born of strict and 
sincere self-examination." 

*' You are severe, my dear Oswald," said Corinne ; 


'' this is not the first time I have remarked it. If religion 
consists but in morality, how is it superior to philosophy 
and reason ? And what piety could we truly feel, if our 
principal end was that of stifling all the feelings of the 
heart ? The Stoics knew almost as much as ourselves of 
austere self-denials; hut something more due to Christianity 
is the enthusiasm which weds it with all the affections 
of the soul — the power of loving and sympathising. It is 
the most indulgent worship, which best favours the flight 
of our spirits towards heaven. What means the parable of 
the Prodigal Son, if not that true love of God is preferred 
even above the most exact fulfilment of duty ? He quitted 
the paternal roof; his brother remained beneath it : he had 
plunged into all the pleasures of the world ; his brother 
had never, for an instant, broken the regularity of domestic 
life : but the wanderer returned, all tears, and his beloved 
father received him with rejoicing! Ah! doubtless, among 
the mysteries of nature, love is all that is left us of our 
heavenly heritage! Our very virtues are often too constitu- 
tional for us always to comprehend what is right, or what is 
the secret impulse that directs us. I ask my God to teach 
me to adore him. I feel the effect of my petition by the 
tears I shed. But, to sustain this disposition, religious 
exercises are more necessary than you may think ; — a 
constant intercourse with the Divinity ; daily habits that 
have no connection with the interests of life, but belong 
solely to the invisible world. External objects are of 
great assistance to piety. The soul would fall back upon her- 
self, if music and the arts reanimated not that poetic genius, 
which is also the genius of religion. The vulgarest man, 
while he prays, suffers, or trusts in Heaven, would express 
himself like Milton, Homer, or Tasso, if education had 
clothed his thoughts in words. There are but two distinct 
classes of men born — those who feel enthusiasm, ami 
those who deride it ; all the rest is the work of society. 
One class have no words for their sentiments ; the other 
know what they ought to say to hide the void of their 
hearts : but the stream flowed from the rock at the com- 
mand of Heaven ; even so gush forth true talent, true 
religion, true love. The pomp of our worship ; those pic- 



tures of kneeling saints_, whose looks express continual 
prayer ; those statues placed on tomhs, as if to awaken 
one day with the dead ; our churches^ with their lofty 
aisles ; — all seem intimately connected with devout ideas. 
I love this splendid homage^ made by man to that which 
promises him neither fortune nor power ; which neither 
rewards nor punishes^ save by the feelings it inspires : I 
grow proud of my kind^ as I recognise something so 
disinterested. The magnificence of religion cannot be too 
much increased. I love this prodigality of terrestrial gifts 
to another world; offerings from time to eternity : sufficient 
for the morrow are the cares required by human economy. 
Oh ! how I love what would be useless waste^ were life 
nothing better than a career of toil for despicable gain ! if 
this earth be but our road to heaven^ what can we do 
better than so elevate our souls, that they feel the Infinite, 
the Invisible, the Eternal, in the midst of the limits that 
surround them ? Jesus permitted a weak, and, perhaps^ 
repentant woman, to steep his head in precious balms, 
saying to those who bade her turn them to more profitable 
use, ' Why trouble ye the woman ? the poor ye have 
always with ye, but me ye have not alv>rays.' Alas ! what- 
ever is good or sublime on this earth, is ours but for a 
while ; we have it not always. Age, infirmities, and death 
soon sully the heavenly dewdrop that only rests on flowers. 
Dear Oswald, let us, then, blend love, religion, genius, sun. 
shine, odours, music, and poetry. There is no Atheism 
but cold selfish baseness. Christ has said, '^ When two or 
three are gathered together in my name, I will be amongst 
them ; ' and what. Oh God ! is assembling in thy name, if 
we do not so while enjoying the charms of nature, therein 
praising and thanking thee for our life ; above ail, when 
some other heart, created by thy hands, responds entirely 
to our own ? " 

So celestial an inspiration animated the countenance of 
Corinne, that Oswald could scarce refrain from falling at 
her feet in that august temple. He was long silent, de- 
lightedly musing over her words, and reading their mean- 
ing in her looks : he could not, however, abandon a cause 
so dear to hina as that he had undertaken ; therefore re- 


sumed. — '^ Corinne, hear a few words more from your 
friend : his heart is not seared ; no, no, beheve me, if I 
require austerity of principle and action, it is because it 
gives our feelings depth and duration ; if I look for reason 
in religion, — that is, if I reject contradictory dogmas, and 
human means for affecting the soul — it is because I see 
the Divinity in reason as in enthusiasm ; if I cannot allow 
man to be deprived of any of his faculties, it is because 
they are all scarce sufficient for his comprehension of the 
truths, revealed to him as much by mental reflection as by 
heartfelt instinct — the existence of a God, and the im- 
mortality of the soul. To these solemn thoughts, so en- 
twined with virtue, what can be added, that, in fact, belongs 
to them ? The poetic zeal to which you lend so many 
attractions, is not, I dare assert, the most salutary kind of 
devotion ! Corinne, how can it prepare us for the innu- 
merable sacrifices that duty exacts ? It has no revela- 
tion, save in its own impulses ; while its future destiny is 
seen but through clouds. Now we, to whom Christianity 
renders it clear and positive, may deem such a sensation 
our reward, but cannot make it our sole guide. You 
describe the existence of the blest, not that of mortals ; a 
religious life is a combat, not a hymn. If we were not 
sent here to repress oujr own and others' evil inclinations, 
there would, as you say, be no distinctions save between 
apathetic and ardent minds. But man is more harsh and 
rugged than you think him ; rational piety and imperious 
duty alone can check his proud excesses. Whatever you 
may think of exterior pomp, and numerous ceremonies, 
dearest ! the contemplation of the universe and its Author, 
will ever be the only worship which so fills the heart, that 
self-knowledge can find in it nothing either idle or absurd. 
The dogmas that wound my reason, also chill my enthu- 
siasm. Doubtless, the world is in itself an incomprehensible 
mystery, and he were most unwise who refused to believe 
whatever he could not explain ; but contradictions are 
always the work of man. The secrets of God are beyond 
our mental powers, but not opposed to them. A German 
philosopher has said, ' I know but two lovely things in the 
universe — the starry sky above our heads, and the sense 


of duty within our hearts.' In sooth, all the wonders of 
creation are included in these. Far from a simple religion 
withering the heart, I used to think, ere I knew you, 
Corinne, that such alone could concentrate and] perpetuate 
its affections. I have witnessed the most austere purity of 
conduct from a man of inexhaustible tenderness. I have 
seen it preserve, in age, a virgin innocence which the 
storms of passion must else have blighted. Repentance is 
assuredly commendable, and I, more than most men, had 
need rely on its efficacy ; but repeated penitence wearies 
the soul ; it is a sentiment that can but once regenerate us. 
Redemption accomplished, cannot be renewed; accustomed 
to the attempt, we lose the strength of love ; for it requires 
strength of mind to love God constantly. I object to the 
splendid forms which here act so powerfully on the fancy, 
because I would have imagination modest and retiring, 
like the heart : emotions extorted from it, are always less 
forcible than those that spring spontaneously. In the 
Cevennes, I heard a Protestant minister preach one eve 
among the mountains : he addressed the tombs of the 
Frenchmen, banished by their brothers, and promised 
their friends that they should meet them in a better world: 
a virtuous life, he said, would secure that blessing, adding, 
' Do good to man, that God may heal the wounds within 
your breasts ! ' He wondered at the inflexibility with 
which the creature of a day dared treat his fellow worm ; 
and spoke of that terrible death, which all conceive, but 
none can fully expound. In short, he said nought that was 
not touching, true, and perfectly in harmony with nature. 
The distant cataract, the sparkling starlight, seemed ex- 
pressing the same thoughts in other ways. There was 
the magnificence of nature, the only one whose spectacles 
offend not the unfortunate ; and this imposing simplicity 
affected the soul as it was never affected by the most 
brilliant of ceremonies." 

On Easter Sunday, Oswald and Corinne went to the 
Place of St. Peter's, to see the Pope, from the highest 
balcony of the church, call down Heaven's blessing on the 
earth : as he pronounced ' Urbi et orW — on the city and 
the world, — the people knelt, and our lovers felt all creeds 


alike. Religion links men with each other, unless self- 
love and fanaticism render it a cause of jealousy and hate. 
To pray together, in whatever tongue or ritual, is the 
most tender brotherhood of hope and sympathy that men 
can contract in this life. 


Easter was over, yet Corinne spoke not of accomplishing 
her promise, by confiding her history to Nevil. Hurt by 
this silence, he one day told her that he intended paying a visit 
to their vaunted Naples. She understood his feelings, and 
proposed to make the journey with him ; hoping to escape 
the avowal he expected from her, by giving him a proof of 
love which ought to be so satisfactory : besides, she thought 
that he would not take her with him, unless he designed 
to become hers for life. Her anxious looks supplicated a 
favourable reply. He could not resist, though surprised at 
the simplicity with which she made this offer; yet he 
hesitated for some time, till, seeing her bosom throb, and 
her eyes fill, he consented, without considering the import- 
ance of such a resolution. Corinne was overwhelmed with 
joy : at that moment she implicitly relied on his fidelity. 
The day was fixed, and the sweet perspective of travelling 
together banished every other idea. Not an arrangement 
they made for this purpose but was a source of pleasure. 
Happy mood! in which every detail of life derives a charm 
from some fond hope. Too soon comes the time when each 
hour fatigues ; when each morning costs us an effort, to 
support our waking, and drag on the day to its close. As 
Nevil left Corinne, in order to prepare every thing for their 
departure, the Count d'Erfeuil called on her, and learnt 
her plan. " You cannot think of it ! " he said : " make a 
tour with a man who has not even promised to be your 
husband ! what will become of you if he turns deserter } " 
— "I should become," replied she, " but wbat I must be, in 
any situation, if he ceased to love me, — the most unhappy 
person in the world." — " Yes ; but if you had done nothing 
to compromise your name, you would still remain yourself." 


^^ Myself ! " she repeated, " when the hest feelings of rny 
soul were blighted, and my heart broken ? " — " The public 
would not guess that ; and with a little caution you might 
preserve its opinion." — " And why humour that opinion, 
unless it were to gain one merit the more in the eyes of 
love?" — ^' We may cease to love," answered the Count, 
" but we do not cease to live in need of society." — " If I 
could think," she exclaimed, " that the day would come 
when Oswald's affections were no longer mine all, I should 
have ceased to love already. What is love, if it can calculate 
and provide against its own decay ? No ; like devotion, it 
dissipates all other interests, and delights in an entire 
sacrifice of self." — " And can a person of your mind turn 
her brain with such nonsense ? " asked D'Erfeuil : ^' it is 
certainly to the advantage of us men, that women think as 
you do ; but you must not lose your superiority; it ought to 
be in some way useful." — " Useful !" cried Corinne ; *^ Oh! 
I shall owe it enough, if it teaches me the better to appre- 
ciate the tender generosity of Nevil." — '' Nevil is like other 
men," rejoined the Count ; '' he will return to his country, 
resume his career there, and be reasonable at last ; you will 
expose your reputation most imprudently by going to Naples 
with him." — '^ I know not his intentions," she answered ; 
'^ and, perhaps, it would have been better to have reflected 
ere I loved him; but now — what matters one sacrifice 
more ? Does not my life depend on his love } Indeed, I 
feel some solace in leaving myself without one resource j there 
never is any for wounded hearts, but the world may some- 
times think that such remains ; and I love to know that 
even in this respect my misfortune would be complete, if 
Nevil abandoned me." — " And does he know how far you 
commit yourself for his sake.'' " — " No ; I have taken great 
pains, as he is but imperfectly acquainted with the customs 
of this country, to exaggerate the liberty it permits. Give 
me your word that you will say nothing to him on this' 
head. I wish him to be ever free ; he cannot constitute 
my felicity by giving up any portion of his own. His love 
is the flower of my life ; and neither his delicacy nor his 
goodness could reanimate it, if once faded. I conjure you, 
then, dear Count, leave me to my fate. Nothing that you 




know of the heart's affections can suit my case : all you say 
is right, and very applicable to ordinary persons and situa- 
tions ; but you innocently do me great wrong in judging 
me by the common herd, for whom there are so many 
maxims ready made. I enjoy, I suffer, in my own way ; 
and it is of me alone that those should think who seek to 
influence my welfare." The self-love of d'Erfeuil was a 
little stung by the futiUty of his advice ; and, by the mark 
of preference shown to Nevil, he knew that he himself 
was not dear to Corinne, and that Oswald was ; yet that all 
this should be so publicly evinced was somewhat disagreeable 
to him. The success of any man, with any woman, is apt 
to displease even his best friends. '• I see I can do nothing 
here," he added ; '^ but, when my words are fulfilled, you 
will remember me ; meantime I shall leave Rome : without 
you and Nevil I should be ennuied to death. I shall surely 
see you both again in Italy or Scotland ; for I have taken a 
fancy to travel, while waiting for better things. Forgive my 
counsel, charming Corinne, and ever depend on my devotion 
to you." She thanked and parted from him with regret. She 
had known him at the same time with Oswald ; that was a 
link she liked not to see broken ; but she acted as she had told 
d'Erfeuil she should do. Some anxiety still troubled 
Oswald's joy : he would fain have obtained her secret, that 
he might be certain they were not to be separated by any 
invincible obstacle ; but slie declared she would explain 
nothing till they were at Naples ; and threw a veil over 
what might be said of the step she was taking. Oswald 
lent himself to this illusion : love, in a weak, uncertain cha- 
racter, deceives by halves, reason remains half clear, and 
present emotions decide which of the two halves shall be- 
come the whole. The mind of Nevil was singularly ex- 
pansive and penetrating ; yet he could only judge himself 
correctly in the past; his existing situation appeared to 
him ever in confusion. Susceptible alike of rashness and 
remorse, of passion and timidity, he was incapable of 
understanding his own state, until events had decided the 
combat. When the friends of Corinne were apprised of 
her plan they were greatly distressed, especially Prince 
Castel Forte, who resolved to follow her as soon as possible. 


178 corinne; or italy. 

He had not the vanity to oppose her accepted lover, but he 
could not support the frightful void left by the absence of 
his fair friend ; he had no acquaintance whom he was not 
wont to meet at her house ; he visited no other. The 
society she attracted round her must be dispersed by her 
departure, so wrecked that it would soon be impossible to 
restore it. He was little accustomed to live among his 
family ; though extremely intelligent, study fatigued him ; 
the day would have been too heavy but for his morn and 
evening visit to Corinne. She was going ; he could but 
guess why ; yet secretly promised himself to rejoin her, not 
like an exacting lover, but as one ever ready to console her, 
if unhappy, and who might have been but too sure that 
such a time would come. Corinne felt some melancholy in 
loosening all the ties of habit ; the life she had led in Rome 
was agreeable to her ; she was the centre round which 
circled all its celebrated artists and men of letters — perfect 
freedom had lent charms to her existence : what was she 
to be now ? if destined to be Oswald's wife, he would take 
her to England : how should she be received there ? how 
restrain herself to a career so different from that of her last 
six years ? These thoughts did but pass over her mind ; 
love for Oswald effaced their light track. She saw him, 
heard him, and counted the hours but by his presence or 
absence. Who can refuse the happiness that seeks them ? 
Corinne, of all women, was the least forethoughted ; nor 
hope nor fear was made for her ; her faith in the future 
was indistinct, and in this respect her fancy did her as 
little good as harm. The morning of her departure Castel 
Forte came to her, with tears in his eyes. ^' Will you B 
return no more to Rome ? " he asked. — " My God, yes ! " she *^ 
cried ; " we shall be back in a month." — " But, if you wed 
Lord Nevil, you will leave Italy." — " Leave Italy!" she 
sighed. — "■ Yes; the country where we speak your language, 
and understand you so well; where you are so vividly 
admired, and for friends, Corinne, — where will you be 
beloved as you are here ? where find the arts, the thoughts 
that please you ? Can a single attachment constitute your 
life.? Do not language, customs, and manners, compose 
that love of country which inflicts such terrible grief on the 



exile ? " — " What say you ? " cried Corinne : ^' have I not 
experienced it ? " Did not that very grief decide my fate ? " 
She looked sadly on the statues that decked her room ; then 
on the Tiber, rolling beneath her windows ; and the sky 
whose smile seemed inviting her to stay ; but at that mo- 
ment Oswald crossed the bridge of St. Angelo on horse- 
back. " Here he is !" cried Corinne : she had scarcely said 
the words ere he was beside her. She ran before him, and 
both, impatient to set forth, took their places in the carriage ; 
yet Corinne paid a kind adieu to Castel Forte ; but it was 
lost among the shouts of postilions, the neighing of horses, 
and all the bustle of departure — sometimes sad — some- 
times intoxicating, — just as fear or hope may be inspired by 
the new chances of coming destiny. 




Oswald was proud of bearing off his conquest; though 
usually disturbed in his enjoyments by reflections and 
regrets, he felt less so now : not that he was decided, but . 
that he did not trouble himself to be so ; he yielded to the 
course of events, hoping to be borne towards the haven of 
his wishes. They crossed the Campagna d'Albano, where 
still is shown the supposed tomb of the Horatii and 
Curatii. (7) They passed near the Lake of Nemi, and the 
sacred woods that surround it, where it is said Hippolitus 
was restored to life by Diana, who permitted no horses ever to 
enter it more, in remembrance of her young favourite's 
misfortune. Thus, in Italy, almost at every step, history, 
and poetry add to the graces of nature, sweeten the memory 
of the past, and seem to preserve it in eternal youth. 
Oswald and Corinne next traversed the Pontine marshes, 
n2 • 


fertile and pestilent at once, unenlivened by a single ha- 
bitation. Squalid-looking men put to the horses, advising 
you to keep awake while passing through this air, as sleep 
is ever the herald of death. Buffaloes, of the most stupid 
ferocity, draw the plough, which imprudent cultivators some- 
times employ upon this fatal land ; and the most brilliant 
sunshine lights up the whole. Unwholesome swamps in 
the north are indicated by their frightful aspects ; but in 
the most dangerous countries of the south nature deceives 
the traveller by her serenest welcome. If it be true that 
slumber is so perilous on these fens, the drowsiness their 
heat produces adds still more to our sense of the perfidy 
around us. Nevil watched constantly over Corinne. When 
she languidly closed her eyes, or leaned her head on the 
shoulder of Theresina, he awakened her with inexpressible 
terror ; and, silent as he was by nature, now found inex- 
haustible topics for conversation, ever new, to prevent her 
submitting for an instant to this murderous sleep. May we 
not forgive the heart of woman for the despairing regret 
with which it clings to the days when she was beloved ? 
when her existence was so essential to that of another, that 
its every instant was protected by his arm ? What isolation 
must succeed that delicious time ! Happy they whom the 
sacred link of marriage gently leads from love to friendship, 
without one cruel moment having torn their hearts. 

At last our voyagers arrived at Terracipa, on the coast 
bordering the kingdom of Naples. There the south, indeed, 
begins, and receives the stranger in its full magnificence. 
The Campagna Felice seems separated from the rest of 
Europe, not only by the sea, but by the destructive land 
which must be crossed to reach it. It is as if nature 
wished to keep her loveliest secret, and therefore rendered 
the roads to it so hazardous. Not far from Terracina 
is the promontory chosen by poets as the abode of Circe ; 
behind rises Mount Anxur, where Theodoric, king of the 
Goths, built one of his strongest castles. There are few 
traces of these invading barbarians left, and those, being 
mere works of destruction, are confounded with the works 
of time. The northern nations have not given Italy that 
warlike aspect which Germany retains. It seems as if the 



soft earth of Ausonia could not keep the fortifications and 
citadels that bristle through northern snows. Rarely is a 
Gothic edifice or feudal castle to be found here. The 
antique Romans still reign over the memory even of their 
conquerors. The whole of the mountain above Terracina 
is covered with orange and lemon trees, that delicately em- 
balm the air. Nothing in our own climes resembles the 
effect of this perfume: it is like that of some exquisite 
melody, exciting and inebriating talent into poetry. The 
aloes and large-leaved cactus that abound here remind one 
of Africa's gigantic vegetation, almost fearfully ; they seem 
belonging to a realm of tyranny and violence. Every thing 
is strange as another world, known but by the songs of 
antique bards, who, in all their lays, evinced more ima- 
gination than truth. As they entered Terracina, the 
children threw into Corinne's carriage immense heaps of 
flowers, gathered by the wayside, or on the hills, and 
strewn at random, so confident are they in the prodigality 
of nature. The waggons that bring the harvest from the 
fields are daily garlanded with roses : one sees and hears, 
beside these smiling pictures, the waves that rage unlashed 
by storms against the rocks, eternal barriers that chafe the 
ocean's pride. 

" E non udite ancor come risuona 
II roco ed alto fremito marine ? " 

" And hear you not still how resounds 
The hoarse and deep roar of the sea?" 

This endless motion, this aimless strength, renewed eternally, 
whose cause and termination are alike unknown to us, draws 
us to the shore whence so grand a spectacle may be seen, 
till we feel a fearful desire to rush into its waves, and stun 
our thoughts amid their tumultuous voices. 

Towards evening all is calm. Corinne and Neville wan- 
dered slowly forth : they stepped on flowers, and scattered 
their sweets as they pressed them. The nightingale rests 
on the rose-bushes, and blends the purest music with the 
richest scents. All nature's charms seem mutually at- 
tracted ; but the most entrancing and inexpressible of all is 
the mildness of the air. In contemplating a fine northern 
N 3 


view, the climate always qualifies our pleasure. Like false 
notes in a concert, the petty sensations of cold and damp 
distract attention ; but in approaching Naples you breathe 
so freely, feel such perfect ease ; with such bounteous friend- 
ship does nature welcome you, that nothing impairs your 
delight. Man's every relation, in our lands, is with society : 
in warm climates his affections overflow among exterior 
objects. It is not that the south has not its melancholy — 
in what scenes can human destiny fail to awaken it } but 
here it is unmixed with discontent or anxiety. Elsewhere 
life, such as it is, suffices not the faculties of man : here those 
faculties suffice not for a life whose superabundance of 
sensations induce a pensive indolence, for which those who 
feel it can scarce account. 

' During the night the fire-flies fill the air : one might 
suppose that the burning earth thus let her flames escape 
in light : these insects wanton through the trees, sometimes 
pitching on their leaves ; and as the wind waves them, the 
uncertain gleam of these little stars is varied in a thousand 
ways. The sand also contains a number of small ferru- 
ginous stones, that shine through it, as if earth cherished 
in her breast the last rays of the vivifying sun. Every 
where is united a life and a repose that satisfy at once all 
the wishes of existence. 

Corinne yielded to the charm of such a night with heart- 
felt joy. Oswald could not conceal his emotion. Often he 
pressed her hand to his heart, then withdrew, returned, re- 
tired again, in respect for her who ought to be the companion 
of his life. She thought not of her danger : such was her 
esteem for him, that, had he demanded the gift of her entire 
being, she would not have doubted that such prayer was 
but a solemn vow to make her his wife ; she was glad, how- 
ever, that he triumphed over himself, and honoured her by 
the sacrifice : her soul was so replete with love and hap- 
piness, that she could not form another wish. Oswald was 
far from this calm : fired by her beauty, he once embraced 
her knees with violence, and seemed to have lost all empire 
over his passion ; but Corinne looked on him with so sweet 
a fear, as if confessing his power, in entreating him not to 
abuse it, that this humble defence extorted more reverence 


than any other could have done. They saw reflected in the 
wave a torch which some unknown hand bore along the 
beach, to a rendezvous at a neighbouring house. " He 
goes to his love," said Oswald ; ^' and for me the happiness 
of this day will soon be over." Corinne's eyes, then raised 
to heaven, were filled with tears. Oswald, fearing he had 
offended her, fell at her feet, begging her to pardon the love 
which hurried him away. She gave him her hand, pro- 
posing their return together. " Oswald," she said, ^' you 
will, 1 am assured, respect her you love ; you know that 
the simplest request of yours would be resistless : it is you, 
then, who must answer for me ; you, who would refuse me 
for your wife, if you had rendered me unworthy to be so." 
— " Well," said Oswald, " since you know the cruel 
potency of your will over my heart, whence, whence this 
sadness?" — "Alas," she replied, " I had told myself that 
my last moments passed with you were the happiest of my 
life ; and, as I looked gratefully to heaven, I know not by 
what chance a childish superstition came back upon my 
mind. The moon was hid by a cloud of fatal aspect. I 
have always found the sky either paternal or angry ; and I 
tell you, Oswald, that to-night it condemns our love." — 
" Dearest," cried he, " the only auguries are good or evil 
actions ; and have I not this evening immolated my most 
ardent desires to virtue ? " — " It is well," added Corinne : 
" if you are not involved in this presage, it may be that the 
stormy heaven menaces but myself." 


They arrived at Naples by day, amid its immense population 
of animated idlers. They first crossed the Strada del Toledo, 
and saw the Lazzaroni lying on the pavement, or crouching in' 
the wicker works that serve them for dwelHngs night and 
day ; this savage state, blending with civilisation, has a very 
orginal air. There are many among these men who know 
not even their own names ; who come to confession anony- 
N 4 


mously, because they cannot tell what to call the offenders. 
There is a subterranean grotto^ where thousands of Lazzaroni 
pass their lives, merely going at noon to look on the sun, 
and sleeping during the rest of the day, while their wives 
spin. In climates where food and raiment are so cheap, 
it requires a very active government to spread sufficient 
national emulation : material subsistence is so easy there, 
that they dispense with the industry requisite elsewhere for 
our daily bread. Idleness and ignorance, combined with 
the volcanic air they imbibe, must produce ferocity when 
the passions are excited; yet these people are no worse 
than others : they have imagination which might prove the 
parent of disinterested actions, and lead to good results, did 
their political and religious institutions set them good 

The _ Calabrese march towards the fields they cultivate 
with a musician at their head, to whose tunes they occa- 
sionally dance, by way of variety. Every year is held near 
Naples a fete to our Lady of the Grotto, at which the girls 
dance to the sound of tambourines and castanets; and 
they often make it a clause in their marriage contracts, 
that their husbands shall take them annually to this fete. 
There was an actor of eighty, who for sixty years diverted 
the Neapolitans, in their national part of PolichineUo. 
What immortality does the soul deserve which has thus 
long employed the body .•* The people of IvTaples know no 
good but pleasure ; yet even such taste is preferable to bar- 
ren selfishness. It is true that they love money inordinately : 
if you ask your way in the streets the man addressed holds 
out his hand as soon as he has pointed : they are often too 
lazy for words ; but their love of gold is not that of the 
miser; they spend as they receive it. If coin were intro- 
duced among savages, they would demand it in the same 
way. What the Neapolitans want most is a sense of dignity. 
They perform generous and benevolent actions rather from 
impulse than principle. Their theories are worth nothing ; 
and public opinion has no influence over them ; but, if any 
here escape this moral anarchy, their conduct is more 
admirable than might be found elsewhere, since nothing in 
their exterior circumstances is favourable to virtue. Nor 


laws nor manners are there to reward or punish. The 
good are the more heroic, as they are not the more sought or 
better considered for their pains. With some honourable 
exceptions, the highest class is very like the lowest ; the 
mind is as little cultivated in the one as in the other. 
Dress makes the only difference. But, in the midst of all this, 
there is at bottom a natural cleverness and aptitude, which 
shows us what such a nation, might become, if the govern- 
ment devoted its powers to their mental and moral im- 
provement. As there is little education, one finds more 
originality of character than of wit ; but the distinguished 
men of this country, such as the Abbe Galiani, and 
Caraccioli, possessed, it is said, both pleasantry and reflec- 
tion, — rare union, without which either pedantry or frivolity 
must prevent men from knowing the true value of things. 
In some respects the Neapolitans are quite uncivilised ; but 
their vulgarity is not like that of others ; their very gross- 
ness strikes the imagination. We feel that the African 
shore is near us. There is something Numidian in the 
wild cries we hear from all sides. The brown faces, and 
dresses of red or purple stuff, whose strong colours catch 
the eye, those ragged cloaks, draped so artistically, give 
something picturesque to the populace, in whom, elsewhere, 
we can but mark the steps of civilisation. A certain taste for 
ornament is here found, contrasted with a total want of all 
that is useful. The shops are decked with fruit and flowers ; 
some of them have a holy day look, that belongs neither to 
private plenty nor public felicity ; but solely to vivacious 
fancy, which fain would feast the eye at any rate. The 
mild clime permits all kinds of labourers to work in the 
streets. Tailors there make clothes, and cooks pastry, — 
these household tasks performed out of doors much augment 
the action of the scene. Songs, dances, and noisy sports 
accompany this spectacle. There never was a country in 
which the difference between amusement and happiness 
might be more clearly felt ; yet leave the interior for the 
quays, look on the sea, and Vesuvius, and you forget all that 
you know of the natives. Oswald and Corinne reached 
Naples while the eruption still lasted. By day it sent forth but 
a black smoke, which might be confounded with the clouds ; 


but in the evening, going to the balcony of their abode, 
they received a most unexpected shock. A flood of fire 
rolled down to the sea, — its flaming waves imitating the 
rapid succession, and indefatigable movement of the ocean's 
billows. It might be said that nature, though dividing 
herself into different elements, preserved some traces of her 
single and primitive design. This phenomenon really 
makes the heart palpitate. We are so familiarised with 
the works of heaven, that we scarcely notice them with any 
new sensation in our prosaic realms ; but the wonder which 
the universe ought to inspire is suddenly renewed at the 
sight of a miracle like this: our whole being is agitated by 
its Maker's power, — from which our social connections 
have turned our thoughts so long : we feel that man is not 
the world's chief mystery ; that a strength independent of 
his own at once threatens and protects him, by a law to 
him unknown. Oswald and Corinne promised themselves 
the pleasure of ascending Vesuvius, and felt an added de- 
light in thinking of the danger they thus should brave 


There was at that time in the harbour ap English ship of 
war, where divine service was performed every Sunday. 
.The captain and other English persons then at Naples in- 
vited Lord Nevil to attend on the morrow. He promised ; 
but while thinking whether he should take Corinne, or how 
she could be presented to his countrywomen, he was tor- 
tured by anxiety. As he walked with her near the port 
next day, and was about to advise her not to go on board 
this vessel, a boat neared the shore, rowed by ten sailors, 
dressed in white, wearing black velvet caps, with the Leo- 
pard embroidered on them in silver. A young officer 
stepped on shore, and entreated Corinne to let him take her 
to the ship, calling her " Lady Nevil." At that name she 
blushed, and cast down her eyes. Oswald hesitated a mo- 
ment, then said in English, " Come, my dear : " she 



obeyed. The sound of the waves made her thoughtful, 
as did the silence of the well disciplined crew, who, with- 
out one superfluous word or gesture, rapidly winged their 
bark over the element they had so often traversed. Co- 
rinne dared not ask Nevil what she was to anticipate ; she 
strove to guess his projects, never hitting on what, at all 
times, was most probable, that he had none, but let himself 
be borne away by every new occurrence. For a moment, 
she imagined that he was leading her to a church of Eng- 
land chaplain to make her his wife : this thought alarmed 
more than it gratified her. She felt about to leave Italy 
for England, where she had suffered so much : the severity 
of its manners returned to her mind, and not even love 
could triumph over her fear. How she would in other 
circumstances have wondered at these fleeting ideas ! She 
mounted the vessel's side : it was arranged with the most 
careful neatness. Nothing was heard from its deck but 
the commands of the captain. Subordination and serious 
regularity here reigned, as emblems of liberty and order, 
in contrast with the impassioned turmoil of Naples. Os- 
wald eagerly watched the impression this made on Corinne, 
yet he was often diverted from his attention by the love 
he bore his country. There is no second country for an 
Englishman, except a ship and the sea. Oswald joined 
the Britons on board to ask the news, and talk politics. 
Corinne stood beside some English females who had come 
to hear prayers. They were surrounded by children, 
beautiful as day, but timid like their mothers, and not a 
word was spoken before the stranger. This restraint was 
sad enough for Corinne : she looked towards fair Naples, 
thought of its flowery shore, its lively habits, and sighed. 
Happily Oswald heard her not ; on the contrary, seeing 
her seated among his sisters, as it were, her dark eyelashes 
cast down like their light ones, and in every way conform- 
ing with their customs, he felt a thrill of joy. Vainly 
does an Englishman take a temporary pleasure among 
foreign scenes and people ; his heart invariably flies back to 
his first impressions. If you find him sailing from the 
antipodes, and ask whither he is going, he answers " Home,'* 
if it is towards England that he steers. His vows, his 



sentiments^ at whatever distance he may be, are always 
turned towards her.* They went below for divine service. 
Corinne perceived that her first conjecture was unfounded, 
and that Nevil's intentions were less solemn than she sup- 
posed ; then she reproached herself for having feared, and 
again felt all the embarrassment of her situation ; for every 
one present believed her the wife of Lord Nevil, and she 
could say nothing either to confirm or to destroy this idea. 
Oswald suffered as cruelly. Such faults as weakness and 
irresolution are never detected by their possessor, for 
whom they take new names from each fresh circumstance ; 
sometimes he tells himself that prudence, sometimes that 
delicacy defers the moment of action, and prolongs his 
suspense. Corinne, in spite of her painful thoughts, was 
deeply impressed by all she witnessed. Nothing speaks 
more directly to the soul than divine service on board ship, 
for which the noble simplicity of the Reformed Church 
seems particularly adapted. A young man acted as chap- 
lain, with a firm, sweet voice : his face bespoke a purity 
of soul : he stood " severe in youthful beauty," a type of the 
religion fit to be preached amidst the risks of war. At 
certain periods the English minister pronounced prayers, 
the last words of which were repeated by the whole assem- 
bly : these confused, yet softened tones, coming from vari- 
ous distances, re-animated the interest of the whole. Sailors 
and officers alike knelt to the words, " Lord, have mercy 
upon us ! " The Captain's cutlass hung by his side, sug- 
gesting the glorious union of humility before God, and 
courage among men, which renders the devotion of warriors 
so affecting. While all these brave fellows addressed the 
God of Hosts, the sea was seen through the ports ; the light 
sound of its now peaceful waves was audible, as if to say, 
" Your prayers are heard." The chaplain concluded with 
a petition peculiar to English sailors, '^ And may God 
grant us the grace to defend our happy constitution abroad, 

^ Who that has one beloved object absent for any considerable space of time, 
can read this tribute from a foreigner without tears of pride and rapture, at 
the consciousness that whoever is left behind, though little valued while 
near, gains a sad importance as part of that home, that England, to which the 
dear one must long to return ? The natives of great continents may love their 
birthplaces as well as we do ours ; but it cannot be in the same manner. — Tr. 


and to find on cur return domestic peace at home." 
What grandeur is contained in these simple words ! The 
preparatory and continual study which the navy demands, 
the life led in those warlike and floating cloisters, the uni- 
formity of their grave toils, is seldom interrupted, save hy 
danger or death. Nevertheless, sailors often behave with 
extreme gentleness and pity towards women and children, 
if thrown on their care : one is the more touched by this, 
from knowing the heedless coolness with which they expose 
their lives in battle, and on that main where the presence 
of man seems something supernatural. Nevil and Corinne 
were again rowed on shore : they gazed on Naples, built 
like an amphitheatre, thence to look on the spectacle of 

As Corinne's foot touched the shore, she could not 
check a sentiment of joy : had Oswald guessed " this, he 
would have felt displeased, perhaps excusably ; yet such 
displeasure would have been unjust, for he was passion- 
ately beloved, though the thought of his country always 
forced on his adorer the memory of events which had 
rendered her miserable. Her fancy was changeful : talent, 
especially in a woman, creates a zest for variety that the 
deepest passion cannot entirely supply. A monotonous life, 
even in the bosom of content, dismays a mind so con- 
stituted : without a breeze to fill our sails we may always 
hug the shore ; but imagination will stray, be sensibility 
never so faithful, at least till misfortune slays these trifling 
impulses, and leaves us but one thought, one only sorrow. 

Oswald attributed the reverie of Corinne solely to the 
awkward situation of her having been called Lady Nevil : 
he blamed himself for not extricating her from it, and 
feared that she might suspect him of levity. He, there-= 
fore, began the long desired explanation, by offering to 
relate his own history. '• I shall speak first," he said, 
*' and your confidence will follow mine?" — "Doubtless 
it ought," replied Corinne, trembling ; "you wish it — at 
what day — what hour ? when you have spoken I will tell 
all."' — "How sadly you are agitated!" said Oswald. 
" Will you always fear me thus, nor ever learn to trust my 
heart?" — " It must be," she answered: " I have written 

390 corinne; or italy. 

it^ and if you insist — to-morrow — " — '- To-morrow we 
go to Vesuvius : you shall teach me to admire it ; and on 
our way, if I have strength enough, I will give you the 
story of my own doom : that shall precede yours, I am re- 
solved." — "Well," replied Corinne," you give me to- 
morrow : I thank you for that one day more. Who can 
tell if, when I have opened my heart to you, you will re- 
main the same ? How can I help trembhng beneath such 
doubt ? " 


Our lovers commenced their route by the ruins of Pom- 
peii. Both were silent, for the decisive moment now drew 
nigh ; and the vague hope so long enjoyed, so accordant 
with the clime, was about to give place to yet unknown 
reality. Pompeii is the most curious ruin of antiquity. 
In Rome one hardly finds any wrecks, save those of public 
works, associated with the political changes of by-gone 
centuries. In Pompeii you retrace the private life of the 
ancients. The volcano which buried it in ashes pre- 
served it from decay. No edifices, exposed to the air, 
could thus have lasted. Pictures and bronzes keep their 
primal beauty, while all domestic implements remain in 
overawing perfection. The amphoras are still decked 
for the morrow's festival. The flour that was to have 
been kneaded into cakes is yet there : the remains of a fe- 
male are adorned for this interrupted fete, her fleshless 
arm no longer filling the jewelled bracelet that yet hangs 
about it. Nowhere else can one behold such proofs of 
death's abrupt invasion. The track of wheels is visible in 
the streets; and the stone-work of the wells bears the 
marks of the cords that had worn away their edges by 
degrees. On the walls of the guard-room are seen the ill- 
formed letters, and rudely sketched figures, which the sol- 
diers had scrawled to beguile their time, while Time him- 
self was striding to devour them. When, from the midst 
of the cross-roads, you see all sides of the town, nearly as 
it existed of yore, you seem to expect that some one will 


come from these masterless dwellings : this appearance of 
life renders the eternal silence of the place still more ap- 
palling. Most of the houses are built of lava, — and fresh 
lava destroyed them. The epochs of the world are counted 
from fall to fall. The thought of human beings, toiling 
by the light that consumed them, fills the breast with me- 
lancholy. How long it is since man first lived, suffered, 
and died ! Where can we find the thoughts of the de- 
parted ? do they stiU float around these ruins ? or are they 
gathered for ever to the heaven of immortality } A few 
scorched manuscripts, which were partly unrolled at Por- 
tici, are all that is left us of these victims to earthquake 
and volcano. But in drawing near such relics we dread 
to breathe, lest we should scatter with their dust the noble 
ideas perhaps impressed on it. The public buildings, 
even of Pompeii, which was one of the smallest Italian 
towns, are very handsome. The splendour of the ancients 
seemed always intended for the general good. Their 
private houses are small, and decked but by a taste for the 
fine arts. Their interiors possess agreeable pictures, and 
tasteful mosaic pavements ; on many of them, near the 
door-sill, is inlet the word *^ Salve." This salutation 
was not surely one of simple politeness, but an invitation to 
hospitality. The rooms are remarkably narrow, with no 
windows towards the street, nearly all of them opening 
into a portico, or the marble court round which the rooms 
are constructed : in its centre is a simply elegant cistern. 
It is evident that the inhabitants lived chiefly in the open 
air, and even received their friends there. Nothing can 
give a more luxurious idea of life than a climate which 
throws man into the bosom of nature. Society must have 
meant something very different in such habits from what 
it is where the cold confines men within doors. We bet- 
ter appreciate the dialogues of Plato while beholding the 
porticoes beneath which the ancients passed half of their 
day. They were incessantly animated by the beauteous 
sky. Social order, they conceived, was not the barren com- 
bination of fraud and force, but a happy union of institu- 
tions that excite the faculties, and develope the mind, 
making man's object the perfection of himself and his fel- 


low-creatures. Antiquity inspires insatiable curiosity. 
The learned_, employed solely on collections of names, 
which they call history, were surely devoid of all imagin- 
ation. But to penetrate the past, interrogate the human 
heart through many ages; to seize on a fact in a word, and 
on the manners or character of a nation in a fact ; to re- 
enter the most distant time, in order to conceive how the 
earth looked in its youth, and in what way men sup- 
ported the life which civilisation has since rendered so 
complicated ; — this were a continual effort of imagination, 
whose guesses discover secrets that study and reflection 
cannot reveal. Such occupation was particularly attractive 
to Nevil, who often told Corinne that, if he had not nobler 
interests to serve in his own land, he could not endure to 
live away from this. We should, at least, regret the glory 
we cannot obtain. Forgetfulness alone degrades the soul, 
which can ever take refuge in the past, when deprived of 
a present purpose. 

Leaving Pompeii they proceeded to Portici, whose in- 
habitants beset them with loud cries of " Come and see 
the mountain!" thus they designate Vesuvius. Has it 
need of name } It is their glory, their country is cele- 
brated as the shrine of this marvel. Oswald begged Co- 
rinne to ascend in a sort of palanquin to the Hermitage of 
St. Salvadore, which is half way up, and the usual resting- 
place of travellers. He rode by her side to overlook her 
bearers ; and the more his heart filled with the generous 
sentiments such scenes inspire, the more he adored Co- 
rinne. The country at the foot of Vesuvius is the most 
fertile and best cultivated of the kingdom most favoured 
by Heaven in all Europe. The celebrated Lacryma Christi 
vine flourishes beside land totally devastated by lava, as if 
nature here made a last effort, and resolved to perish in 
her richest array. As you ascend, you turn to gaze on 
Naples and on the fair land around it : the sea sparkles 
in the sun as if strewn with jewels ; but all the splendours 
of creation are extinguished by degrees, as you enter the 
region of ashes and of smoke, that announces your approach 
to the volcano. The iron waves of other years have traced 
their large black furrows in the soil. At a certain height 

corinnb; or italy. 193 

birds are no longer seen ; further on, plants become very 
scarce, then even insects find no nourishment. At last aU 
life disappears ; you enter the realm of death, and the slain 
earth's dust alone sHps beneath your unassured feet. 

" Ne greggi, ne armenti 
Guida bifolco mai, guida pastore." 

" Never doth swain nor cowboy thither lead the flocks or herds." 

A hermit lives betwixt the confines of life and death. 
One tree, the last farewell to vegetation, stands before his 
door, and beneath the shade of its pale foliage are travellers 
wont to await the night ere they renew their course; for 
during the day the fires and lava, so fierce when the sun is 
set, look dark beneath his splendour. This metamorphose 
is in itself a glorious sight, which every eve renews the 
wonder that a continual glare might weaken. The solitude 
of this spot gave Oswald strength to reveal his secrets ; 
and, wishing to encourage the confidence of Corinne, he 
said, " You would fain read your unhappy lover to the 
depth of his soul. Well, I will confess all. My wounds 
will re-open, I feel it ; but in the presence of immutable 
nature ought one to fear the changes time can bring .'* " 




" I WAS educated in my paternal home, with a tenderness 
and virtue that I admire the more, the more I know of man- 
kind. I have never loved any one more profoundly than 
I loved my father ; yet I think, had I then known as I now 
do, how alone his character stood in the world, my aflPection 
would have been still more devoted. I remember a thou- 
sand traits in his life that seemed to me quite simple, be- 


cause he found them so_, and that melt me into tears now 
I can appreciate their worth. Setf-reproach on our conduct 
to a dear object who is no more^ gives an idea of what 
eternal torments would be^ if divine mercy deigned not to 
sooth our griefs. I was calmly happy with my father, but 
wished to travel ere I entered the army. There is, in my 
country, a noble career open for eloquence ; but I am even 
yet so timid, that it would be painful for me to speak in 
public ; therefore I preferred a military life, and certain 
danger, to possible disgust ; my self-love is in all respects 
more susceptible than ambitious. Men become giants when 
they blame me, and pigmies when they praise. I wished 
to visit France, where the revolution had just begun, which, 
old as was the race of man, professed to recommence the 
history of the world. My father was somewhat prepossessed 
against Paris, which he had seen during the last years 
of Louis XV. ; and could hardly conceive how coteries 
were to change into a nation, pretence into virtue, or vanity 
into enthusiasm. Yet he consented to my wishes, for 
he feared to exact any thing, and felt embarrassed by his 
own authority, unless duty commanded him to exert it, 
lest it might impair the truth, the purity, of voluntary af- 
fection ; and, above all, he lived on being loved. In the 
beginning of 1791^ when I had completed my twenty- first 
year, he gave me six months' leave of absence; and I de- 
parted to make acquaintance with the , nation so near in 
neighbourhood, so contrasted in habits, to my OM^n. Me- 
thought I should never love it. I had all the prejudices of 
English pride and gravity. I feared the French raiUery 
against all that is tender and serious. I detested that art 
of repelling impulse and disenchanting love. The found- 
ation of this vaunted gaiety appeared to me a sad one, for 
it wounded the sentiments I most cherished. I had not 
then m^t any really great Frenchmen, such as unite the 
noblest quaUties with the most charming manners. I was 
astonished at the free simplicity which reigned in Parisian 
parties. The most important interests were discussed with- 
out either frivolity or pedantry, as if the highest thoughts 
liad become the patrimony of conversation, and that the 
revolution of the whole world would but render the society 



of Paris more delightful. I found men of superior talents 
and education animated by the desire to please, even more 
than the wish to be useful ; seeking the suffrages of the 
mlon after those of the senate, and living in female society 
rather to be applauded than beloved. 

'^ Every thing in Paris is well combined with reference to 
external happiness. There is no restraint in the minutiae 
of life j selfishness is at heart, but not in appearance ; 
active interests occupy you every day, without much 
benefit, indeed, but certainly without the least tedium. 
A quickness of conception enables men to express and com- 
prehend by a word what would elsewhere require a long 
explanation. An imitative spirit, which must, indeed, 
oppose all true independence, gives their intercourse an 
accordant complaisance, no where to be found besides ; in 
short, an easy manner of diversifying life and warding off 
reflection, without discarding the charms of intellect. To 
all these means of turning the brain, I must add their spec- 
tacles, and you will have some idea of the most social city 
in the world. I almost start at breathing its name in this 
hermitage, in the midst of a desert, and under impressions 
the extreme reverse of those which active population create; 
but I owe you a description of that place, and the effect it 
took upon myself. Can you believe, Corinne, gloomy and 
discouraged as you have known me, that I permitted my- 
self to be seduced by this spirited whirlpool ? I was 
pleased at having not a moment of ennui ; it would have 
been well if I could have deadened my power of suffering, 
capable as I was of love. If I may judge by myself, I 
should say that a thoughtful and sensitive being may weary 
of his own intensity ; and that which wooes him ir^ 
himself a while does him a service. It is by raising. ihe 
above myself, that you, Corinne, have dissipated my natural 
melancholy ; it was by depreciating my real value, that a 
woman of whom I shall have soon to speak benumbed my 
internal sadness. Yet though I was infected by Parisian 
tastes, they would not long have detained me, had I not 
conciliated the friendship of a man, the perfect model of 
, French character in its old loyalty, of French mind in its 
new cultivation. I shall not, my love, tell you the real names 


of the persons I must mention ; you will understand why, 
when you have heard me to the end. Count Raimond, 
then_, was of the most illustrious birth ; he inherited all the 
chivalrous pride of his ancestors, and his reason adopted 
more philosophic ideas whenever they commanded a per- 
sonal sacrifice ; he had not mixed actively in the revolu- 
tion, but loved what was virtuous in either party. Courage 
and gratitude on one side, zeal for liberty on the other : 
whatever was disinterested pleased him ; the cause of all 
the oppressed seemed just to him ; and this generosity was 
heightened by his perfect negligence of his own life. Not 
that he was altogether unhappy, but his mind was so con- 
trasted with general society, that the pain he had daily 
felt there detached him from it entirely. I was so fortunate 
as to interest him; he sought to vanquish my natural 
reserve ; and, for this purpose, embellished our friendship 
by little artifices perfectly romantic : he knew of no ob- 
stacles to his doing a great service or a slight favour : he 
designed to settle for six months of the year in England, 
to be near me ; and I could hardly prevent his sharing 
with me the whole of his possessions. * I have but a 
sister,' he said, ^ married richly, so I am free to do what 
I please with my fortune. Besides, this revolution will 
turn out ill, and I may be killed ; let me then enjoy what 
I have in looking on it as yours.' Alas ! the noble Rai- 
mond but too well foresaw his destiny. 

'' When man is capable of self-knowledge, he is rarely 
deceived as to his own fate ; and presentiment is oft but 
judgment in disguise. Sincere even to imprudence, Rai- 
mond '^ wore his heart upon his sleeve : ' such a character was 
new to me ; in England the treasures of the mind are not 
thus exposed ; we have even a habit of doubting those who 
display them ; but the expansive bounty of my friend 
afforded me enjoyments at once ready and secure. I had 
no suspicion of his qualities, even though I knew them all 
at our first meeting. I felt no timidity with him ; nay, 
what was better, he put me at ease with myself. Such 
was the amiable Frenchman for whom I felt the friendship 
of a brother in arms, which we experience but in youth, 
ere we acquire one sentiment of rivalry — ere the unretum- 


ing wheels of time have furrowed the partitions betwixt the 
present and the future. 

" One day Count Raimond said to me, ^ My sister is a 
widow. I confess I am not sorry for it. I never Hked 
the match. She accepted the hand of a dying old man, 
when we were both of us poor ; for what I have has but 
lately been bequeathed to me. Yet, at the time, I opposed 
this union as much as possible. I would have no mercenary 
calculations prompt our acts, least of all the most important 
one of life ; still she has behaved in an exemplary manner 
to the husband she never loved : that is nothing in the 
eyes of the world. Now that she is free, she will return to 
my abode. You will see her : she is very pleasing in the 
main, and you English like to make discoveries ; for my 
part, I love to read all in the face at once. Yet your man- 
ner, dear Oswald, never vexes me; but from that of my sister 
I feel a slight restraint.' 

^' Madame d'Arbigny arrived : 1 was presented to her. 
In features she resembled her brother, and even in voice ; 
but in both there was a more retiring caution : her coun- 
tenance was very agreeable, her figure all grace and faultless 
elegance. She said not a word that was unbecoming; 
failed in no species of attention ; and, without exaggerated 
politeness, flattered self-love by an address which showed 
with what she was pleased, but never committed her. She 
expressed herself, on tender subjects, as if seeking to hide 
the feelings of her heart. This so reminded me of my own 
countrywomen, that I was attracted by it; methought, 
indeed, that she too often betrayed what she pretended to 
conceal, and that chance did not aiford so many occasions 
for melting moments as she passed off for involuntary. 
This reflection, however, flitted but Hghtly over my mind ; 
for what I felt beside her was both novel and delightful. 
I had never been flattered by any one. In England, we 
feel both love and friendship deeply ; yet the art of insi- 
nuating ourselves into favour by bribing the vanity of others 
is little known. Madame d'Arbigny hung on my every 
word. I do not think that she guessed all I might become ; 
but she revealed me to myself by a thousand minute ob- 
servations, the discernment of which amazed me. Sometimes 


I thought her voice and language too studiously sweet ; but 
her resemblance to the frankest of men banished these 
notions_, and bound me to confide in her. One day I men- 
tioned to him the effect this likeness had on me. He 
thanked me ; then, after a moment's pause, said, ' Yet our 
characters are not congenial.' He was silent; but these 
words, and many other circumstances, have since convinced 
me that he did not wish to see his sister my wife : that she 
designed to be so, I detected not for a while. My days 
glided on without a care : she was always of my opinion. 
If I began a subject, she agreed with it, ere explained ; yet, 
with all this meekness, her power over my actions was most 
despotic: she had a way of saying, ^ Surely you intend to do 
so and so ; ' or, ' You certainly cannot think of such a step as 
that.' I feared that I should lose her esteem by disap- 
pointing her expectations. Yet, Corinne, believe me — for 
I thought so ere I met you — it was not love I felt. I had 
never told her that I loved her, and was not sure whether 
such a daughter-in-law would suit my father : he had not 
anticipated my marrying a Frenchwoman, and I could do 
nothing without his consent. My silence, I believe, dis- 
pleased the lady; for she had now and then fits of ill 
temper, — she called them low spirits, and attributed them 
to very affecting causes, though her countenance, if for a 
moment off her guard, wore a most irritated aspect. I 
fancied that these little inequalities might arise from our 
intercourse, with which I was not satisfied myself: for it 
does one more harm to love by halves than to love with all 
one's heart. 

^' Raimond and I never spoke of his sister : it was the 
first constraint that subsisted between us : but Madame 
d'Arbigny had conjured me not to make her the theme of 
my conversations with her brother; and, seeing me astonished 
at this request, added, ^ I know not if you think with me, 
but I can endure no third person, not even an intimate 
friend, to interfere with my regard for another. I love the 
secresy of affection.' The explanation pleased me, and I 
obeyed. At this time a letter arrived from my father, 
recalling me to Scotland. The half year had rolled by ; 
France was every day more disturbed ; and he deemed it 


unsafe for a foreigner to remain there. This pained me 
much, though 1 felt its justice. I longed to see him again, 
yet could not tear myself from the Count and Madame 
d'Arbigny without regret. I sought her instantly _, showed 
her the letter, and, while she read it, was too absorbed by 
sadness to mark the impression it made. I was merely 
sensible that she said something to secure my delay ; bade 
me write word that 1 was ill, and so tack away from my 
father's commands. I remember that was the phrase she 
used. I was about to reply, that my departure was fixed 
for the morrow, when Raimond entered the room, and, 
hearing the state of the case, declared, with the utmost 
promptitude, that I ought to obey my parent without 
hesitation. I was struck by this rapid decision, expecting 
to have been pressed to stay. I would have resisted my 
own reluctance, but I did not like to have my purposed 
triumph talked of as a matter of course. For a moment I 
misinterpreted my friend : he perceived it, and took my 
hand, saying, ' In three months I shall visit England; 
why, then, should I keep you here ? I have my reasons,' 
he added, in a whisper ; but his sister heard him, and said, 
hastily, that he was right, that no Englishmen ought to be 
involved in the dangers of the revolution. I now know 
it was not to such peril that the Count alluded ; but he 
neither contradicted nor confirmed her explanation. I was 
going, and he did not think it necessary to tell me more. 
* If I could be useful to my native land, I should stay here,' 
he said ; * but you see it is no longer France ; the prin- 
ciples for which I loved it are destroyed. I may regret 
this soil, but shall regain my country when I breathe the 
same air with you.' 

*' How was I moved by this touching assurance of true 
friendship ! How far above his sister ranked Count Rai- 
mond at that moment in my heart ! She guessed it ; and 
the same evening appeared in quite a new character. Some 
guests arrived ; she did the honours admirably ; spoke of 
my departure as if it were in her eyes the most uninter- 
esting occurrence. I had previously remarked, that she 
set a price on her preference, which prevented her ever 
letting others witness the favour she accorded me: but 
p 4 

^00 corinne; or italy. 

now this was too much. I was ^o hurt hy her indifference, 
that I resolved to take leave before the party, and not 
remain alone with her one instant. She heard me ask her 
brother to let me see him in the morning, ere I started ; 
and, coming to us, told me aloud that she must charge me 
with a letter for a friend of hers in England ; then added, 
hastily, and in a low voice, ^ You regret — you speak but 
to my brother : would you break my heart, by flying thus ? ' 
In an instant she stepped back, and reseated herself among 
her visitants. I was agitated by her words, and should 
have stayed as she desired, but that Raimond, taking my 
arm, led me to his own room. When the company had 
dispersed, we suddenly heard strange sounds from Madame 
d'Arbigny's apartment : he took no notice of them ; but I 
forced him to ascertain their cause. We were told that 
she was very ill. I would have flown to her ; but the Count 
obstinately forbade. ^ Let us have no scene ! ' he said ; 
' in these affairs women are best left to themselves.' I 
could not comprehend this want of feeling for a sister, so 
contrasted with his invariable kindness to me ; and I left 
him in an embarrassment which somewhat chilled my fare- 
well. Ah ! had I known the delicacy which would fain 
have bafl^led the captivations of a woman he did not believe 
formed to make me happy, could I have foreseen the events 
which were to separate us for ever, my adieu would have 
better satisfied his soul and mine own." ' 


Oswald ceased for some minutes. Corinne had listened 
so tremblingly that she too was silent, fearful of retarding 
the moment when he would renew his narrative. — " I 
should have been happy," he continued, '^ had my ac- 
quaintance with Madame d'Arbigny ended there — had I 
never more set foot in France. But fate, or, rather, per- 
haps, my own weakness, has poisoned my life for ever. 
Yes, dearest love ! even beside you. I passed a year in 


Scotland with my father : our mutual tenderness daily 
increased. I was admitted into the sanctuary of that 
heavenly spirit; and^ in the friendship that united us, 
tasted all the consanguine sympathies whose mysterious 
links belong to our whole being. I received most affec- 
tionate letters from Raimond, recounting the difficulties he 
found in transferring his property, so as to join me ; but 
his perseverance in that aim was unwearied. I loved him 
for it ; but what friend could I compare with my father ? 
The reverence I felt for him never checked my confidence. 
I put my faith in his words as in those of an oracle ; and 
the unfortunate indecision of my character was suspended 
while he spoke. ^ Heaven has formed us for a love of what 
is venerable/ says an English author. My father knew 
not, could not know, to what degree I loved him ; and my 
fatal conduct might well have taught him to doubt whether 
I loved him at all. Yet he pitied me, while dying, for the 
grief his loss would inflict. Ah, Corinne ! I draw near 
the recital of my woes : lend my courage thy support ; for 
in truth I need it." — '^ My dear friend," she answered, 
*' be it some solace that you unveil your nobly sensitive 
heart before the being who most admires and loves you in 
the world." Nevil proceeded: — " He sent me to London 
on business; and I left him without one warning fear, 
though never to see him again. He was more endearing 
than ever in our last conversation : it is said that the souls 
of the just, like flowers, breathe their richest balms at the 
approach of night. He embraced me with tears, saying, 
that at his age all partings were solemn ; but I believed his 
life like mine : our souls understood each other so well, and 
I was too young to think upon his age. The fears and 
the confidence of strong affection are alike inexplicable : he 
accompanied me to the door of that old hall which I have 
since beheld desert and devastated, like my own heart. I 
had but been a week in London, when I received the cruel 
letter of which 1 remember every word : — ' Yesterday, the 
10th of August, my brother was massacred at the Tuileries, 
while defending his king. I am proscribed, and forced to 
fly, to hide from my persecutors. Raimond had taken all 
my fortune, with his own, to settle in England. Have you 


yet received it ? or know you whom he trusted to remit 
it? I had but one Hne from him_, written when the chateau 
was attacked, bidding me only apply to you and I should 
know all. If you could come hither and remove me, you 
might save my life. The English still travel France in 
safety; but I cannot obtain a passport under my own name. 
If the sister of your hapless friend sufficiently interests 
you, my retreat may be learned at Paris of my relation 
Monsieur Maltigues : but should you generously wish to 
aid me, lose not a moment ,• for it is said that war will 
shortly be declared between our two countries.' Imagine 
the effect this took on me ! my friend murdered, his sister 
in despair, their fortune, she said, in my hands, though I 
had not received the least tidings of it; add to these cir- 
cumstances, Madame d'Arbigny's danger, and belief that I 
could preserve her ; it was impossible to hesitate. I sent 
a messenger to my father with her letter, and my promise 
to return in a fortnight ; then set forth instantly. By the 
most distressing chance the man fell ill on the way, and my 
second letter, from Dover, reached my father before the 
first. Thus he knew of my flight, ere informed of its mo- 
tives ; and ere the explanation came, had taken an alarm 
which could not be dissipated. I arrived at Paris in three 
days, and found that Madame d'Aubigny had retired to a 
provincial town sixty leagues off: thither I followed her. 
We were both much agitated at meeting. , She appeared 
more lovely in her distress than I had ever thought her — 
less artificial, less restrained. We wept together for her 
noble brother, and distracted country. I anxiously enquired 
as to her fortune. She told me that she had no news of -it ; 
but in a few days I learned that the banker to whom Count 
Raimond confided it, had returned it to him; and, what was 
more singular, a merchant of the town in which we were, 
who told me this by chance, assured me that Madame 
d'Arbigny never needed to have felt a moment's doubt of 
its safety. I could not understand this ; went to ask her 
what it meant ; and found M. Maltigues, who, with the 
readiest coolness, informed me that he had just brought 
from Paris intelligence of the banker's return, as, not hav- 
ing heard of him for a month, they had thought he was 


gone to England.* She confirmed her kinsman's statements, 
and I believed them ; but, since, have recollected her pre- 
texts for not showing me the note from Raimond, men- 
tioned in her letter, and am now convinced that the whole 
was but a stratagem to secure me. It is certain that, as she 
was rich, no interested motives blended with her scheme ; 
but her great fault lay in using address where love alone 
was required, and dissimulating when candour would better 
have served the cause of her sentimental enterprise : she 
loved me as much as those can love, who preconcert not 
only their actions but their feelings, and conduct an affair 
of the heart with the policy of a state intrigue. I formally 
declared that I would never marry without my father's 
approval ; yet I could not forbear betraying the transports 
her beauty and sadness excited. Her plan being to make 
me captive at any price, she let me perceive that she was 
not thoroughly resolved on repulsing my wishes. As I now 
retrace what passed between us, I am assured that she he- 
sitated from motives quite independent of love and virtue ; 
nay, that their apparent struggles were but her own 
secret deliberations. I was constantly alone with her ; 
and my delicacy could not long resist the temptation. 
She imposed on me all the duties, in yielding me all the 
rights of a husband; yet displayed more remorse, perhaps, 
than she really felt ; and thus so bound me to her, that I 
would fain have taken her to England, and implored my 
father's consent to oiy union ; but she refused to quit 
France, unless as my wife. There she was wise, indeed ; 
but, well knowing my filial resolutions, she erred in the 
mea'ns she used to retain me in spite mine every duty. 
When the war broke out, my desire to leave France became 
still stronger, and her obstacles to it multiplied. She could 
obtain no passport ; and if I went alone, her reputation 
would be ruined ; nay, she should be doubly suspected, for 
her correspondence with me. This woman, so mild, so 
equable, in general, then gave way to a despair which per- 
fectly overwhelmed me. She employed her wit and graces 

• This is the le?s clear for being literal. I cannot comprehend how tha 
banker's return should concern Madame d'Arbigny, if he had previously 
restored Raimond's fortune ; nor who possessed it— Th. 


to please^ her grief to intimidate me. Perhaps women are 
wrong in commanding by tears, enslaving by the strength 
of their weakness ; yet, when they fear not to exert this 
weapon, it is nearly always victorious, at least for a while. 
Doubtless, love is weakened by this sort of usurpation ; and 
the power of tears, too frequently exerted, chills the ima- 
gination ; but, at that time, there were a thousand excuses 
for them in France. Madame d'Arbigny's health, too, 
seemed daily to decrease : another terrible instrument of 
female tyranny is illness. Those who have not, like you, 
Corinne, a just reliance on their minds, or are not, like 
Englishwomen, so proudly modest that feigning is impos- 
sible, have always recourse to art ; and the best we can 
then hope of them is that their deceit is caused by a real 
attachment. A third party was now blended with our 
connection * — Monsieur Maltigues. She pleased him ; he 
asked nothing better than to marry her ; though a specu- 
lative immorality rendered him indifferent to every thing. 
He loved intrigue as a game, even while not interested in 
the stake j and seconded Madame d'Arbigny's designs on 
me, ready to desert this plot if occasion served for ac- 
complishing his own. He was a man against whom I 
felt a singular repugnance ; though scarcely thirty, his 
manners and person were remarkably hackneyed. In Eng- 
land, where we are accused of coldness, I never met any 
thing comparable with the seriousness of his demeanour on 
entering a room. I should never have taken him for a 
Frenchman, if he had not possessed some taste and plea- 
santry, with a love of talking very extraordinary in a man 
who seemed sated of the world, and who carried that dis- 
position to a system. He pretended that he was born a 
sensitive enthusiast, but that the knowledge of mankind 
he owed to the revolution had undeceived him. He per- 
ceived, he said, that there was nothing good on earth, save 
fortune, or power, or both ; and that line qualities must 
give way to circumstances. He practised on this theory 
cleverly enough ; his only mistake lay in proclaiming it ; 
but though he had not the national wish to please, he 

• The lady's professed aversion to a third party in her attachments seems 
unaccountably reversed.— Ta. 


nevertheless desired to create some sensation^ and that ren- 
dered him thus imprudent : he differed in these respects 
from Madame d'Arbigny, who sought to attain her end 
without betraying herself, or seeking to shine, even in her 
errors. What was most strange in these two persons is, 
that the ardent one could keep her secret, while the insen- 
sible knew not how to hold his tongue. Such as he was, 
Maltigues had a great ascendancy over his relative ; either 
he guessed it, or she told him all ; for even from her 
habitual wariness she required, now and then, to take 
breath, as it were, by an indiscretion. If Maltigues looked 
on her severely, she was always disturbed ; if he seemed 
discontented, she would take him aside to ask the reason ; 
if he went away angry, she almost instantly shut herself up 
to write to him. I explained this to myself from the fact 
of his having known her from her childhood ; he had ma- 
naged her affairs since she had lost all nearer ties; but the 
chief cause was her project, which I discovered too late, 
of marrying him, if I left her ; for at no price would she 
pass for a deserted woman. Such a resolution might make 
you believe that she loved me not ; yet love alone could 
have induced her preference : but through life she cculd 
mix calculation even with passion, and the factitious pre- 
tences of society with her natural feelings. She wept when 
she was agitated, but she could also weep because that was 
the way to express emotion. She was happy in being 
loved, because she loved, but also because it did her honour 
before the world. She had right impulses while left to 
herself, but could only enjoy them if they were rendered 
profitable to her self-love. She was a person formed for 
and by ' good company,' and made that false use even of 
truth itself, which is so often found in a country where a 
zeal for producing effect, by certain sentiments, is much 
stronger than the sentiments themselves. It was long 
since I had heard from my father, the war having cut off 
all communication. At last, chance favoured the arrival of 
a letter*, in which he adjured me to return, in the name 

* Frequent unexplained chances favour subsequent letters ; indeed, the cor- 
rcspondence henceforth seems to proceed as easily as if the countries had been 
at peace. — Tb. 


of my duty and his affection; at the same time declaring 
that, if I married Madame d'Arbigny, I should cause him 
the most fatal sorrow ; begging me, at least, to decide on 
nothing until I had heard his advice. I replied to him 
instantly, giving my word of honour that I would shortly 
do as he required. Madame d'Arbigny tried, first prayers, 
then despondence, to detain me ; and finding these fail, re- 
sorted to a fresh stratagem ; but how could I then suspect 
it? She came to me one morning pale and dishevelled, 
threw herself into my arms as if dying with terror, and 
besought me to protect her. The order, she said, was 
come for her arrest, as sister to Count Raimond, and I 

■ must find her some asylum from her pursuers ; at this time 
women, indeed, were not spared, and all kinds of horrors 
appeared probable. I took her to a merchant devoted to 

-my interest, and hoped to save her, as only Maltigues 
shared the secret of her retreat. In such a situation, how 
could I avoid feeling a lively interest in her fate .f* how 
separate myself from her ? how say, ^ You depend on my 
support, and I withdraw it?' Nevertheless my father's 
image continually haunted me, and I took many occasions 
to entreat her leave for setting forth alone ; but she threat- 
ened to give herself up to the assassins if I quitted her, 
and twice, at noonday, rushed from the house in a frantic 
state that overwhelmed me with grief and fear. I followed, 
vainly conjuring her to return ; fortunatejy it happened 
(unless by conspiracy) that each time we were met by 
Maltigues, who brought her back with reproaches on her 
rashness. Of course I resigned myself to stay, and wrote 
to my father, accounting, as well as I could, for my con- 
duct; though I blushed at being in France, amid the 
outrages then acting there, while that country, too, was at 
war with my own. Maltigues often rallied me on my 
scruples ; but, clever as he was, he did not perceive the 
effect of his jests, which revived all the feelings he sought 
to extinguish. Madame d'Arbigny, however, remarked 
this ; but she had no influence over her kinsman, who was 
often decided by caprice, if self-interest was absent. She 
relapsed into her griefs, both real and assumed, to melt 
me ; and was never more attractive than while fainting at 


my feet ; for she knew how to heighten her beauty as well 
as her other charms_, and wedded each to some emotion in 
order to subdue me. Thus did I live, ever anxious, ever 
vacillating, trembling when I received no letter from my 
father, still more wretched when I did ; enchained by my 
infatuation for Madame d'Arbigny, stiU more dreading her 
violence; for, by a strange inconsistency, though the 
gentlest, and often the gayest of women, habitually, she 
was the most terrible person in a scene. She wished to 
bind me both by pleasure and by fear, and thus always 
transformed her nature to her use. One day, in Septem- 
ber, 1793, more than a year after my coming to France, 
I had a brief letter from my father ; but its few words were 
80 afflicting, that I must spare myself their repetition, 
Corinne ; it would too much unman me. He was already 
ill, though he did not say so ; his pride and delicacy for- 
bade ; but his letter breathed so much distress, both on 
account of my absence, and of my possible marriage, that 
while reading it I wondered how I could have been so long 
blind to the misfortunes with which I was menaced. I 
was now, however, sufficiently awakened to hesitate no 
more ; and went to Madame d'Arbigny, perfectly decided to 
take leave of her. She perceived this, and at once retiring 
within herself, rose, saying, ^ Before you go, you ought to 
be informed of a secret which I blush to avow. If you 
abandon me, it is not me alone you kill. The fruit of my 
guilty love will perish with me.' Nothing can describe 
my sensations ; that new, that sacred duty, absorbed my 
whole soul, and made me more submissively her slave than 
ever. I would have married her at once, but for the 
ruinous consequences that must have befallen me, as an 
Englishman, in then and there giving my name to the 
civil authorities. I deferred our union, therefore, till we 
could fly to England, and determined never to leave my 
victim till then. At first this calmed her ; but she soon 
renewed her complaints against me, for not braving all 
impediments to make her my wife. I should shortly have 
bent to her will, for I had fallen into the deepest melan- 
choly, and passed whole days alone, without power to move, 
— a prey to an idea which I never confessed to myself. 


though its persecution was incessant. I had a foreboding 
of my father's illness_, which I considered a weakness un- 
worthy of belief. My reason was so bewildered by the shock 
my mistress had dealt me, that I now combated my sense 
of duty as a passion ; and that which I might have then 
thought my passion, tormented me as a duty. Madame 
d'Arbigny was perpetually writing me entreaties to visit 
her ; at last I went, but did not speak on the subject which 
gave her such rights over me : indeed, she now less fre- 
quently alluded to it herself than I expected; but my 
sufferings were too great for me to remark that at the 
time. Once, when I had kept my house for three days, 
writing twenty letters to my father, and tearing them all, 
M. Maltigues, who seldom sought me, came, deputed by his 
cousin to tear me from my solitude. Though little interested 
in the success of his embassy, as you will discover, he 
entered before I had time to conceal that my face was 
bathed in tears. ' What is the use of all this, my dear 
boy ? ' he said ; ' either leave my cousin, or marry her. 
The one step is as good as the other, each being conclusive.' 
— ^ There are situations in life,' replied I, '. where even 
by sacrificing oneself, one may not be able to fulfil every 
duty.' — '^ That is, there ought to be no such sacrifice,' 
he added. ' I know of no circumstances in which it is 
necessary ; with a little address one may back out of any 
thing. Management is the queen of the world.' — ^ I 
covet no such ability ; ' said I, ^ but at least would wish, 
in resigning myself to unhappiness, to afliict no one that 
I love.' — ' Have nothing to do, then, with the intricate 
work they call love; it is a sickness of the soul. I am 
attacked by it at times, like any one else ; but when it so 
happens, I tell myself that it shall soon be over, and 
always keep my word.' Seeking to deal, like himself, 
with generalities — for I neither could nor would confide in 
him — I answered, ^ Do what we will with love, we can- 
not banish honour and virtue, that often oppose our in- 
clination.' — ^ If you mean, by honour, the necessity for 
fighting when insulted, there can be no doubt on that 
head ; but, in other respects, what interest have we in 
allowing ourselves to be perplexed by a thousand fasti- 



dious chimeras?' — interest!' I repeated; '^ that is not 
the word in question.' — 'To speak seriously/ he re- 
turned, ' there are few men who have a clear view of this 
subject. I know they formerly talked of honourable mis- 
fortunes, and glorious falls ; but now that all men are per- 
secuted, knaves as well as those by courtesy called honest, 
the only difference is between the birds who are trap- 
ped, and those who escape.' — ' I know of other distinc- 
tions,' I replied, ' where prosperity is despised, and misfor- 
tune honoured by the good.' — ' Show me the good, though,' 
he said, ' whose courageous esteem would console you for 
your own destruction. On the contrary, the self-elected 
virtuous are those who excuse you if happy, and love you 
if powerful. It is very fine in you, no doubt, to repent 
thwarting a father, who ought no longer to meddle with 
your affairs ; yet do any thing rather than linger where 
you may lose your life in a thousand ways. For my 
part, whatever happens to me, I would, at any price, spare 
my friends the sight of my sufferings, and myself their 
long faces of condolence.' — ' In my opinion,' interrupted 
I, ' the aim of an honest man's life is not the happiness 
which serves only himself, but the virtue which is useful 

toothers.' — 'Virtue!' exclaimed Maltigues, 'virtue * 

he hesitated for a moment, then, with more decision, con- 
tinued; ' that's a language for the vulgar, that even 
priests cannot talk between themselves without laughing. 
There are good souls whom certain harmonious words 
still move ; for their sakes let the tune be played : all the 
poetry that they call conscience and devotion was in- 
vented to console those who cannot get on in the world, 
like the de profundis that is sung for the dead. The living 
and the prosperous are by no means ambitious of like 
homage.' I was so irritated that I could not help saying 
haughtily, ' I shall be sorry, sir, when I have a right in the 
house of Madame d'Arbigny, if she persists in receiving 
a man who thinks and speaks as you do.' — ' When that 
time comes,' he answered, ' you may act as you please ; 
but if my cousin is led by me, she will never marry a man 
who looks forward in such affright to his union with her. 
I have always, as she can tell you, censured her folly, and 


the means she has wasted on an object so Httle worth her 
trouble.' At these words^ which their accent rendered still 
more insulting, I made him a sign to follow me; and, 
on our way, it is but justice to tell you that he continued 
to develope his system with the greatest possible coolness : 
he might be no more in a few minutes, yet said not one 
serious, one feeling word. *^ If I had been addicted to all 
the absurdities of other young men,' he pursued, ' would 
not what I have seen in my own country have cured me } 
When has your scrupulousness done you any good ?' — 'I 
agree with you,' said I, ^ that in your country, at present, 
it is of less utility than elsewhere ; but in time, or beyond 
time, each man has his reward.' — ' Oh, if you include 
heaven in your calculations — * — ^ And why not } One or 
other of us, perhaps, will soon know what it means.' — 
'^ If I die,' he laughed forth, ^ I am sure I shall know 
nothing about it ; if you are killed, you won't come back to 
enlighten me.' I now remembered that I had taken no 
precautions for informing my father of my probable fate, 
or making over to Madame d'Arbigny part of my fortune, 
on which I thought she had claims. We drew near Mal- 
tigue's house, and I asked leave to write two letters there : 
he assented. As we resumed our route, I gave them to him, 
and recommended Madame d'Arbigny to him, as to a 
friend of hers on whom I could rely. This proof of 
confidence touched him ; for, be it observed, to the glory 
of honesty, that the most candid profligates are much flat- 
tered if they chance to receive a mark of esteem ; our 
relative position, too, was grave enough to have affected 
even him ; but as he would not for worlds have had me 
guess this, he said jestingly, though I believe prompted by 
deeper feehngs, ' You are a good fellow, my dear Nevil ; 
I 'd fain do something generous by you : it may bring me 
luck, as they say ; and truly generosity is so babyish a 
quality, that it ought to be better paid in heaven than on 
earth. But ere I serve you, our conditions must be made 
plain, say what I will — we fight nevertheless.' I re- 
turned a disdainful consent, for I thought such preface 
unnecessary. Maltigues proceeded, in his cold careless 
way: — ' Madame d'Arbigny does not suit you; you are 


in no way congenial ; your father would be in despair if 
you made such a match, and you would run mad at 
having distressed him: therefore it will be better, if I 
Kve, that I should marry the lady ; if you kill me, still 
better that she should marry another ; for my cousin 
is so highly sagacious, even while in love, that she never 
fails to provide against the chance of being loved no 
longer. All this you will learn by her letters. I bequeath 
them to you : here is the key of my desk. I have been 
her intimate ever since she was born ; and you know that, 
mysterious as she is, she has no secrets with me — little 
dreaming that I should ever tell ; it is true I feel no im- 
pulse hurry me on, but I do not attach much importance 
to these things ; and I think that we men may say what 
we like to each other about women. Also, if I die, it is 
to her bright eyes that I shall owe such accident ; and 
though I am quite ready to die for her, with a good grace, 
I am not too obliged by the situation in which her double 
intrigue has placed me ; for the rest, it is not quite sure 
that you will kill me.' So saying, as we were now beyond 
the town, he drew his sword, and stood upon his guard. 
He had spoken with singular vivacity. I was confounded 
by what I had heard. The approach of danger, instead of 
agitating, animated him ; and I knew not whether he had 
betrayed the truth, or invented a falsehood out of revenge. 
In this suspense I was very careful of his life : he was not 
so adroit a swordsman as myself : ten times might I have 
ran him through the breast, but I contented myself with 
slightly wounding and disarming him : he seemed sensible 
of this. I led him to his own house, and brought him 
back to the conversation which our duel had interrupted. 
He then said, * I am vexed at having so treated my cousin ; 
but peril is like wine, it gets into one's head ; yet I can 
now excuse myself; it rested with you to kill me, and you 
spared my life ; you could not be happy with her, she is 
too cunning ; now to me that is nothing ; for, charmed as I 
am both with her mind and person, she can never do any 
thing to my disadvantage, and we shall be of service to 
each other when marriage makes a common interest. But 
you are romantic, and would be her dupe, therefore I can- 
p 2 


not refuse the letters I promised you : read them, start for 
England, and do not worry yourself too much as to 
Madame d'Arbigny's regrets. She will weep, because she 
loves you, but she will soon be comforted; she is too 
rational a woman to be long unhappy, or, above all, to ap- 
pear so. In three months she shall be Madame de Mal- 
tigues.' AU that he told me was proved true by her cor- 
respondence with him. I felt convinced that her blushing 
confession was a falsity, used but to force me into marriage. 
This was the basest imposition she had practised on me. 
She certainly loved me, for she even told Maltigues so ; 
yet flattered him with such art, left him so much to hope, 
and studied to please him in a character so contrasted from 
that she had ever worn for me, that it was impossible to 
doubt her intention of marrying him, if her union with me 
was prevented. Such was the woman, Corinne, who has 
for ever wrecked the peace of my heart and conscience. I 
wrote to her ere I departed, and saw her no more. As 
Maltigues predicted, I have since heard that she became 
his wife ; but I was far from having tasted the bitterest 
drop that awaited me. I hoped to obtain my father's par- 
don, sure that, when I told him how I had been misled, he 
would love me the more the more pitiable I became. After 
above a month's journey, by night and day, I crossed Ger- 
many, and arrived in England, full of confidence in the 
inexhaustible bounty of paternal love. Corinne, I had 
scarce landed, when a public paper informed me that my 
father was no more. Twenty months have passed since 
that moment, yet it is ever present, like a pursuing phan- 
tom. The letters that formed the words, * Lord Nevil 
has just expired,' are written in flames, to which those of 
the volcano before us are nothing. I heard that he died 
of grief at my absence in France ; fearing that I should 
renounce my military career, that I should marry a woman 
of whom he had an indifferent opinion, and settle in a 
country at war with my own, entirely forfeiting my reput- 
ation as an Englishman. Corinne, Corinne ! am I not a 
parricide ? Tell me." — " No," she cried, ^' no ; you are 
only unfortunate ; your generosity involved you. I re- 
spect as much as I love you; judge yourself by my heart; 


make that your conscience ! Your grief distracts you ; be- 
lieve one who loves you from no illusion : it is because 
you are the best, the most affectionate of men, that I adore 
you." — '^ Corinne," said Oswald, '' these tributes are not 
due to me ; though, perhaps, I am less guilty than I 
think ; my father pardoned me before he died. I found 
the last address he wrote me full of tenderness. A letter 
from me had reached him, somewhat to my justification ; 
but the evil was done ; his heart was broken. When I 
returned to the Hall his old servants thronged round me: I 
repulsed their consolations, and accused myself to them. 
I knelt at his tomb, swearing, if time for atonement yet were 
left me, that I would never marry without his consent. 
Alas ! I promised to one who was no more : what now 
availed my ravings? I ought, at least, to consider them as 
engagements to do nothing which he would have disap- 
proved had he lived. Corinne, dear love ! why are you 
thus depressed ? He might command me to renounce a 
woman who owed to her own artifice the power she ex- 
erted over me, but the most sincere, natural, and generous 
of her sex, for whom I feel my first true love, which pu- 
rifies instead of misguiding my soul, why should a heavenly 
being wish to separate me from her ? 

'' On entering my father's room, I saw his cloak, his foot- 
stool, and his sword still in their wonted stations, though 
his place was vacant, and I called on him in vain. This 
memento of his thoughts alone replied. You already 
know a part of it," Oswald added, giving the manuscript 
to Corinne. '^ Read what he wrote on the Duty of Children 
to their Parents : your sweet voice, perhaps, may familiarise 
me with the words." She thus obeyed : — 

'^ Ah, how slight a cause will teach self-mistrust to a father 
or mother in the decline of life ! They are easily taught 
that they are no longer wanted on earth. What use can 
they believe themselves to you, who no longer ask their 
advice ! ye live but in the present ; ye are wedded to it by 
your passions, and all that belongs not to that present ap- 
pears to you superannuated — ye are so much occupied by 
your young hearts and minds, that, making your own day 
your point of history, the eternal resemblances between men 
p 3 


and their times escape your attention. The authority of 
experience seems but a vain fiction_, formed for the cre- 
dulity of age, as the last enjoyment of its self-love. What 
an error is this ! 

'' That vast theatre, the world, changes not its actors : it is 
always man who appears there, though he varies ; and as 
all his changes depend on some great passion, whose circle 
hath long and oft been trod, it would be strange, if, in the 
little combinations of private life, experience, the science 
of the past, were not the plenteous source of useful instruc- 
tion. Honour your fathers and mothers, then ! respect 
them, if but for the sake of their by-gone reign, the time 
of which they were the only rulers, — if but for the years 
for ever lost, whose reverent seal is imprinted on their 
brows. Know your duty, presumptuous children, impa- 
tient to walk alone on the path of life. They will leave 
you, do not fear it, though so tardy in yielding you place : 

— that father, whose discourses are still tainted by unwel- 
come severity, that mother, whose age imposes on you such 
tedious cares. They will go, these watchful guardians of 
your childhood, these zealous protectors of your youth, 
they will depart, and you will seek in vain for better 
friends : when they are lost, they will wear new aspects ; 
for time, which makes the living old before our eyes, re- 
news their youth when death has torn them away. Time 
then lends them a might unknown before : we see them in 
our visions of eternity, wherein there is no age, as there 
are no gradations ; and if they have left virtuous memories 
behind we adorn them with a ray from heaven : our 
thoughts follow them to the home of the elect ; we see 
them in scenes of felicity, and beside the bright beams of 
which we form their glory, the light of our own best days, 
our own most dazzling triumphs, is extinguished." (8) — 
" Corinne ! " cried Nevil, almost heart-broken, " think you 
it was against me he breathed that eloquent complaint?" 

— ^^ No, no," sl>e replied : '' remember how he loved you, 
and believed in your affection. I am of opinion that these 
reflections were written long ere you committed the faults 
with which you reproach yourself. Listen rather to 
these thoughts on Indulgence, that I find some pages later. 


— ^ We go through life surrounded hy snares, and with 
unsteady steps ; our senses are seduced by deceptive allure- 
ments ; our imaginations mislead us by a false glare ; our 
reason itself each day receives but from experience the 
degree of light and confidence for that day required. So 
many dangers for so much weakness, so many varied in- 
terests with such limited foresight and capacity, in sooth, 
so many things unknown, and so short a life, show us the 
high rank we should give to indulgence among the social 
virtues. Alas ! where is the man exempt from foibles, 
who can look back on his life without regret and remorse ? 
He must be a stranger to the agitations of timidity, and 
never can have examined his own heart in the solitude of 
conscience.' (9) 

^^ These," said Corinne, " are the words your father ad- 
dresses to you from above." — " True," sighed Oswald, 
'' consoling angel ! how you cheer me ; yet could I but have 
seen him, for a moment, ere he died — could I have said 
how unworthy of him I felt myself, and been believed, I 
should not tremble like the guiltiest of mankind. I should 
not evince the vacillation of conduct and gloom of soul 
which can promise happiness to no one. Courage must be 
born of conscience ; how then should it triumph over her } 
Even now, as the darkness closes in, methinks I see, in 
yon cloud, the thunderbolt that is armed against me. 
Corinne, Corinne ! comfort your unhappy lover, or leave 
me on the earth, which, perhaps, will open at my cries, 
and let me descend to the abode of death." * 

• Lord Nevil does not inform us whether he entered the array before he 
visited France, or during liis year's residence in Scotland, ere he returned 
thither. Between his father's death and his departure for Italy lie had surely 
as little time as health for the military duties even of a mess-table, — Tr. 

p 4 






Lord Nevil remained long exhausted after the trying re* 
cital which had thrilled him to the soul. Corinne gently 
strove to revive him. The river of flame which fell from 
Vesuvius fearfully excited his imagination. She availed 
herself of this, in order to draw him from his own recol- 
lections, and begged him to walk with her on the banks 
of once inflamed lava. The ground they crossed glowed 
beneath their steps, and seemed to warn them from a spot 
so hostile to all life. Man could not here call himself ^' lord 
of the creation;" it seemed escaping from his tyranny by 
suicide. The torrent of fire is of a dusky hue, yet when 
it lights a vine, or any other tree, it sends forth a clear 
bright blaze ; but the lava itself is of that lurid tint, which 
tnight represent infernal fire : it rolls on with a crackling 
sound, that alarms the more from its slightness, — cunning 
seems joined with strength. Thus secretly steals the tiger 
to his prey : this cataract, though so deliberate, loses not a' 
moment; if it encounter a high wall, or any thing that 
opposes its progress, it heaps against the obstacle its black and 
bituminous flood, and buries it beneath burning waves. 
Its course is not so rapid but that men may fly before it ; 
but like Time, it overtakes the old or the imprudent, who, 
from its silent approach, think to escape without exertion. 
Its brightness is such that earth is reflected in the sky, 
which appears lapped in perpetual lightning ; this, too, is 
mirrored by the sea, and all nature clothed in their three- 
fold fires. The wind is heard, and its effect perceived as 
it forms a whirlpool of flame round the gulf whence the 
lava issues : one trembles to guess at what is passing in the 
bospm of the earth, whose fury shakes the ground beneath 
our steps. The rocks about the source of this flood are 

corinne; or italy. 217 

covered with pitch and sulphur; whose colours, indeed, 
might suit the home of fiends, — a livid green, a tawny 
brown, and an ensanguined red, form just that dissonance 
to the eye of which the ear were sensible, if pierced by the 
harsh cries of witches, conjuring down the moon from 
heaven. All that is' near the volcano bears so supernal 
an aspect, that doubtless the poets thence drew their por- 
traitures of hell. There we may conceive how man was 
first persuaded that a power of evil existed to thwart the 
designs of Providence. Well may one ask, in such a scene, 
if mercy alone presides over the phenomena of creation ; 
or if some hidden principle forces nature, like her sons, 
into ferocity ? " Corinne," sighed Nevil, " is it not from 
h«nce that sorrow comes ? Does the angel of death take 
wing from yon summit? If I beheld not thy heavenly 
face, I should lose all memory of the charms with which 
the Eternal has adorned the earth ; yet this spectacle, fright- 
ful as it is, overawes me less than conscience. All perils 
may be braved ; but how can the dead absolve us for the 
wrongs we did them living ? Never, never. Ah, Corinne ! 
what need of fires like these } The wheel that turns inces- 
santly, the stream that tempts and flies, the stone that 
rolls back the more we would impel it on, — these are but 
feeble images of that dread thought, the impossible, the ir- 
reparable ! " A deep silence now reigned around Oswald 
and Corinne ; their very guides were far behind ; and near 
the crater nought was heard save the hissing of its fires ; 
suddenly, however, one sound from the city reached even 
this region — the chime of bells, perhaps announcing a 
death, perhaps a birth, it mattered not — most welcome was 
it to our travellers. '' Dear Oswald," said Corinne, " let 
us leaye this desert, and return to the living w^orld. Other 
mountains raise us above terrestrial life, and bring us 
nearer heaven, but here nature seems treated as a criminal, 
and condemned no more to taste the beneficent breath of 
Creator. This is no sojourn for the good — let us de- 
scend!' An abundant shower fell as they sought the 
plain, threatening each instant to extinguish their torches : 
the Lazzaroni accompanied them with yells that might 
alarm any one who knew not that such was their constant 


custom. These men are sometimes agitated by a superfluity 
of life^ with which they know not what to do, uniting 
equal degrees of violence and sloth. Their physiognomy, 
more marked than their characters, seems to indicate a kind 
of vivacity in which neither mind nor heart are at all 
concerned. Oswald, uneasy lest the rain should hurt Co- 
rinne, and lest their lights should fail, was absorbed by 
this indefinite sense of her danger ; and his tenderness by 
degrees restored that composure which had been disturbed 
by the confidence he had made to her. They regained their 
carriage at the foot of the mountain, and stopped not at the 
ruins of Herculaneum, which are, as it were, buried afresh 
beneath the buildings of Portici. They arrived at Naples 
near midnight ; and Corinne promised Nevil, as they took 
leave, to give him the history of her life on the morrow. 


The next morning Corinne resolved to impose on herself 
the effort she had promised : the intimate knowledge of 
Oswald's character which she had acquired redoubled her 
inquietude. She left her chamber, carrying what she had 
written in a trembhng yet determined hand. She entered 
the sitting-room of their hotel. Oswald was there : he had 
just received letters from England. One of them lay on 
the mantel-piece : its direction caught her eye ; and, with 
inexpressible anxiety, she asked from whom it came. 
^^ From Lady Edgarmond," replied Nevil. — ^* Do you 
correspond with her ? " added Corinne. — " Her late lord 
was my father's friend," he said ; " and since chance has 
introduced the subject, I will not conceal from you that 
they thought it might one day suit me to marry the 
daughter, Lucy." — "^ Great God!" cried Corinne, and 
sunk, half fainting, on a seat. — '^ What means this ? " de- 
manded Oswald ; '' Corinne, what can you fear from one 
who loves you to idolatry } Had my parent's dying com- 
mand been my union with Miss Edgarmond, I certainly 

cobinne; or italy. 219 

should not now be free, and would have flown from your 
resistless spells ; but he merely advised the match, writing 
me word that he could form no judgment of Lucy's cha^ 
racter, as she was still a child. I have seen her hut once, 
when scarcely twelve years old. I made no arrangement 
with her mother ; yet the indecision of my conduct, I own, 
has sprung solely from this wish of my father's. Ere I 
met you, I hoped for power to complete it, as a sort of ex- 
piation, and to prolong, beyond his death, the empire of 
his will ; but you have triumphed over my whole being, 
and I now desire but your pardon for what must have ap- 
peared so weak and irresolute in my conduct. Corinne, 
we seldom entirely recover from such griefs as I have ex- 
perienced: they blight our hopes, and instil a painful 
timidity of the future. Fate had so injured me, that even 
while she offered the greatest of earthly blessings I could 
not trust her ; but these doubts are over, love : I am thine 
for ever, assured that, had my father known thee, he would 
have chosen sush a companion for my life." — '^Hold!" 
wept forth Corinne : " I conjure you, speak not thus to me." 
— '' Why," said Oswald, " why thus constantly oppose 
the pleasure I take in blending your image with his ? thus 
wedding the two dearest and most sacred feelings of my 
heart?" — " You cannot," returned Corinne; " too well I 
know you cannot." — "Just Heaven! what have you to 
tell me, then? Give me that history of your life." — " I 
will, but let me beg a week's delay, only a week : what 
I have just learnt obliges me to add a few particulars." — 

" How ! " said Oswald, "^ what connection have you -" 

— '^ Do not exact my answer now," interrupted Corinne. 
" You will soon know all, and that, perhaps, will be the 
end, the dreaded end of my felicity ; but ere it comes, let 
us explore together the Campagna of Naples, with minds 
still accessible to the charms of nature. In these fair 
scenes will I so celebrate the most solemn era of my life, 
that you must cherish some memory of Corinne, such as 
she was, and might have ever been, had she not loved you, 
Oswald." — " Corinne, what mean these hints? You can 
have nothing to disclose which ought to chill my tender 
admiration; why then prolong the mystery that raises 

220 corinne; or Italy. 

barriers between us?" — "Dear Oswald, 'tis my will: 
pardon me this last act of power ; soon you alone will de- 
cide for us both. I shall hear my sentence from your 
Kps unmurmuringly, even if it be cruel ; for I have on this 
earth nor love nor duty condemning me to live when 
you are lost." She withdrew, gently repulsing Oswald, 
who would fain have followed her. 


Corinne decided on giving a fete, united as the idea was 
with melancholy associations. She knew she must be 
judged as a poet, as an artist, ere she could be pardoned 
for the sacrifice of her rank, her family, her name, to her 
enthusiasm. Lord Nevil was indeed capable of appreci- 
ating genius, but, in his opinion, the relations of social 
life over-ruled all others ; and the highest destiny of wo- 
man, nay of man too, he thought was accomplished, not 
by the exercise of intellectual faculties, but by the fulfil-, 
ment of domestic duties. Remorse, in driving him from 
the false path in which he had strayed, fortified the moral 
principles innately his. The manners and habits of Eng- 
land, a country where such respect for law and duty exists^ 
held, in many respects, a strict control over him. Indeed 
the discouragement deep sorrows inculcate teaches men to 
love that natural order which requires no new resolves, no 
decision contrary to the circumstances marked for us by 
fate. Oswald's love for Corinne modified his every feeling : 
but love never wholly effaces the original character, which 
she perceived through the passion that now lorded over it ; 
and, perhaps, his ruling charm consisted in the opposition 
of his character to his attachment, giving added value to 
every pledge of his love. But the hour drew nigh when 
the fleeting fears she had constantly banished, and which 
had but lightly disturbed her dream of joy, were to decide 
her fate. Her mind, formed for delight, accustomed to the 
varying moods of poetry and talent, was wonder-struck at 
the sharp fixedness of grief ; a shudder thrilled her heart. 


such as no woman long resigned to suffering ever knew. 
Yet, in the midst of the most torturing fears, she secretly 
prepared for the one more brilliant evening she might pass 
with Oswald. Fancy and feeling were thus romantically 
blended. She invited the English who were there, and 
some Neapolitans whose society pleased her. On the day 
chosen for this fete, whose morrow might destroy her hap- 
piness for ever, a singular wildness animated her features, 
and lent them quite a new expression. Careless eyes 
might have mistaken it for that of joy ; but her rapid and 
agitated movements, her looks that rested no where, proved 
but too plainly to Nevil the struggle in her heart. Vainly 
he strove to soothe her by tender protestations. ''^ You 
shall repeat them two days hence, if you will," she said ; 
" now these soft words but mock me." The carriages of 
Corinne's party arrived at the close of day, just as the sea 
breeze refreshed the air, inviting man to the contemplation 
of nature. They went first to Virgil's tomb. It over- 
looks the bay of Naples ; and such is the magnificent repose 
of this spot, that one is tempted to believe the bard himself 
must have selected it. These simple words from his 
Georgics might have served him for epitaph : — 

" Illo Virgilium me tempore dulcis alebat Parthenope." 
" Then did the soft Parthenope receive me." 

His ashes here repose, and attract universal homage, — 
all, all that man on earth can steal from death. Petrarch set 
a laurel beside them — like its planter, it is dead. He alone 
was worthy to have left a lasting trace near such a grave. 
One feels disgust at the crowd of ignoble names traced by 
strangers on the walls about the urn ; they trouble the 
peace of this classic solitude. Its present visitants left it 
in silence, musing over the images immortalised by the 
Mantuan. Blest intercourse between the past and future I 
which the art of writing perpetually renews. Shadow of 
death, what art thou ? Man's thoughts survive ; can he 
then be no more.** Such contradiction is impossible. 
"■ Oswald," said Corinne, " these impressions are strange 
preparatives for a fete ; yet," she added, with wild sub- 
limity, " how many fetes are held thus near the grave !" — 


" My life, " he said, " whence all this secret dread ? Con- 
fide in me : for six months have I owed you every thing ; 
perhaps have shed some pleasure over your path. Who 
then can err so impiously against happiness as to dash 
down the supreme bhss of soothing such a soul ? it is 
much to feel one's self of use to the most humble mortal ; 
but Corinne ! to be her comfort ! trust me, is a glory too 
delicious to renounce." — "I beheve your promises/' she 
said ; " yet there are moments when something strange and 
new seizes the heart, and hurries it thus sadly." They 
passed through the Grotto of Pausilipo by torchlight, as 
indeed would have been the case at noon ; for it extends 
nearly a quarter of a league beneath the mountain, and 
in the centre, the light of day, admitted at either ex- 
tremity, is scarcely visible. In this long vault the tramp of 
steeds and cries of their drivers resound so stunningly, 
that they deaden all thought in the brain. Corinne's 
horses drew her carriage with astonishing rapidity; yet 
did she say, '' Dear Nevil, how slowly we advance ! pray 
hasten them." — " Why thus impatient } " he asked : 
'^ formerly, while we were together, you sought not to 
expedite time, but to enjoy it." — " Yet now," she said, 
" all must be decision ; every thing must come to an end ; 
and I would hasten it, were it my death." On leaving the 
Grotto you feel a lively sensation at regaining daylight, and 
the open country ; such a country too ! -What are so often 
missed in Italy, fine trees, here flourish in abundance. 
Italian earth is every where so spread with flowers, that 
woods may better be dispensed with here than in most 
other lands. The heat at Naples is so great, that, even 
in the shade, it is impossible to walk by day ; but in the 
evening the sea and sky alike shed freshness through the 
transparent air : the mountains are so picturesque that 
painters love to select their landscapes from a country 
whose original charm can be explained by no comparison 
with other realms. " I lead ye," said Corinne, to those 
near her, '' through the fair scene celebrated by the name 
of Baiae : we will not pause there now, but gather its recol- 
lections into the moment when we reach the spot which 
sets them all before us." It was on the cape of Micena 

corinne; or italy. 223 

that she had prepared her fete ; nothing could be more 
tastefully arranged. Sailors^ in habits of contrasted hues, 
and some Orientalists from a Levantine bark then in the 
port^ danced with the peasant girls from I schism and Procida, 
whose costume still preserves a Grecian grace ; sweet voices 
were heard singing from a distance ; and instrumental 
music answered from behind the rocks. It was like echo 
echoed by sounds that lost themselves in the sea. The 
softness of the air animated all around — even Corinne her- 
self. She was entreated to dance among the rustics : at 
first she consented with pleasure, but scarcely had she be- 
gun ere her forebodings rendered all amusement odious to 
her, and she withdrew to the extreme verge of the cape ; 
thither Oswald followed, with others, who now begged 
her to extemporise in this lovely scene : her emotions were 
such that she permitted them to lead her towards the 
elevation on which they had placed her lyre, without 
power to comprehend what they expected. 


Still Corinne desired that Oswald should once more hear 
her, as on the day at the Capitol. If the talent with which 
Heaven had gifted her was about to be extinguished for 
ever, she wished its last rays to shine on him she loved : 
these very fears afforded her the inspiration she required. 
Her friends were impatient to hear her. Even the com- 
mon people knew her fame ; and, as imagination rendered 
them judges of poetry, they closed silently round, their 
eager faces expressing the deepest attention. The moon 
arose ; but the last beams of day still paled her light. 
From the top of the small hill that, standing over the sea, 
forms the cape of Micena, Vesuvius is plainly seen, and the 
bay and isles that stud its bosom. With one consent the 
friends of Corinne begged her to sing the memories that 
scene recalled. She tuned her lyre, and began with a 
broken voice. Her look was beautiful ; but one who knew 
her, as Oswald did, could there read the trouble of her 


soul. She strove, however, to restrain her feelings, and 

once more, if but for awhile, to soar above her personal 


Ay, Nature, History, and Poesie, 
Rival each other's greatness : — here the eye 
Sweeps with a glance, all wonders and all tinie. 
A dead volcano now, I see thy lake 
Avernus, with the fear-inspiring waves 
Acheron, and Phl^geton boiling up 
With subterranean flame : these are the streams 
Of that old hell JEneas visited. 

Fire, the devouring life which first creates 
The world which it consumes, struck terror most 
When least its laws were known. — Ah ! Nature then 
Reveal'd her secrets but to Poetry. 

The town of Cuma and the Sibyl's cave. 
The temple of Apollo mark'd this height ; 
Here is the wood where grew the bough of gold. 
The country of the ^neid is around ; 
The fables genius consecrated here 
Are memories whose traces still we seek, 

A Triton has beneath these billows plunged 
The daring Trojan, who in song defied 
The sea divinities : still are the rocks 
Hollow and sounding, such as Virgil tbld. 
Imagination's truth is from its power : 
Man's genius can create when nature's felt ; 
He copies when he deems that he invents. 

Amid these masses, terrible and old. 
Creation's witnesses, you see arise 
A younger hill of the volcano born : 
For here the earth is stormy as the sea. 
But doth not, like the sea, peaceful return 
Within its bounds : the heavy element, 
Upshaken by the tremulous abyss. 
Digs valleys, and rears mountains ; while the waves, 
Harden'd to stone, attest the storms which rend 
Her depths, strike now upon the earth. 
You hear the subterranean vault resound. 
It is as if the ground on which we dwell 


Were but a surface ready to unclose. 
Naples ! how doth thy country likeness bear 
To human passions ; fertile, sulphurous : 
Its dangers and its pleasures both seem born 
Of those inflamed volcanoes, which bestow 
Upon'the atmosphere so many charms. 
Yet bid the thunder growl beneath our feet. 

Pliny but studied nature that the more 
He might love Italy ; and call'd his land 
The loveliest, when all other titles fail'd. 
He sought for science as a warrior seeks 
For conquest : it was from this very cape 
He went to watch Vesuvius through the flames : — 
Those flames consumed him. 

Oh Memory ! noble power ! thy reign is here. 
Strange destiny, how thus, from age to age. 
Doth man complain of that which he has lost. 
Still do departed years, each in their turn, 
Seem treasurers of happiness gone by ; 
And while mind, joyful in its far advance, 
Plunges amid the future, still the Soul 
Seems to regret some other ancient home 
To which it is drawn closer by the past. 

We envy Roman grandeur — did they not 
Envy their fathers' brave simplicity ? 
Once this voluptuous country they despised ; 
Its pleasures but subdued their enemies. 
See, in the distance, Capua ! she o'ercame 
The warrior, whose firm soul resisted Rome 
More time than did a world. 

The Romans in their turn dwelt on these plains. 
When strength of mind but only served to feel 
More deeply shame and grief; effeminate. 
They sank without remorse. Yet Baiae saw 
The conquer'd sea give place to palaces : 
Columns were dug from mountains rent in twain, 
And the world's masters, now in their turn slaves. 
Made nature subject to console themselves 
That they were subject too. 

And Cicero on this promontory died : 
This Gaeta we see. Ah ! no regard 
Those triumvirs paid to posterity, 
Robbing her of the thoughts yet unconceived 



Of this great man : their crime continues still ; 
Committed against us was this offence. 

Cicero 'neath the tyrant's dagger fell, 
But Scipio, more unhappy, was exiled 
With yet his country free. Beside this short 
He died ; and still the ruins of his tomb 
Retain the name, " Tower of my native land : " * 
Touching allusion to the memory 
Which haunted his great soul. 

Marius found a refuge in yon marsh -f*, 
Near to the Scipio's home. Thus in all time 
Have nations persecuted their great men. 
But they enskied them after death | ; and Heaven, 
Where still the Romans deem'd they could command. 
Received amid her planets Romulus, 
Numa, and Caesar ; new and dazzling stars ! 
Mingling together in our erring gaze 
The rays of glory and celestial light. 

And not enough alone of misery. 
The trace of crime is here. In yonder gulf behold 
The isle of Capri, where at length old age 
Disarm'd Tibarius ; violent, yet worn ; 
Cruel, voluptuous ; wearied e'en of crime, 
He sought yet viler pleasures ; as he were 
Not low enough debased by tyranny. 
And Agrippina's tomb is on these shores, 
Facing the isle §, rear'd after Nero's death ; 
The murderer of his mother had proscribed 
Even her ashes. Long at Baiae he dwelt 
Amid the memories of his many crimes. 
What wretches fate here brings before our eyes ! 
Tiberius, Nero, on each other gaze. 

The isles, volcano-born amid the sea, 
Served at their birth the crimes of the old world. 
The sorrowing exiles on these lonely rocks, 
Watch'd 'mid the waves their native land afar, 
Seeking to catch its perfumes in the air : 

* " La tour de la patrie." Patrie can scarce be rendered by a single word • 

native land " perhaps best expresses the ancient patritu — L. E. L. 

f Mintumo. 

X " lis sont consoles par I'apotheose." This is the only instance in which I 
nave not given, as nearly as possible, the English word that answered most 
exactly ; but 1 confess one so long as " apotheosis " fairly baffled my efforts to 
get It into rhythm. It is curious to many Pagan observances were 
grafted on the, Roman Catholic worship. Canonisation is but a Christian 
apotheosis, — onlv the deceased turned into saints instead of gods. — L. E. L. 

\ Caprea. 



And often, a long exile worn away, 
Sentence of sudden death arrived to show 
They were remember'd by their enemies. 

O Earth ! all bathed with blood and tears, yet never 
Hast thou ceased putting forth thy fruit and flowers ; 
And hast thou then no pity for mankind ? 
Can thy maternal breast receive again 
Their dust, and yet not throb ? L. E. L. 

Here Corinne paused for some moments. All her as- 
sembled hearers threw laurels and myrtle at her feet. 
The soft pure moonlight fell on her brow, and the breeze 
wantoned with her ringlets as if nature delighted to 
adorn her: she was so overpowered as she looked on 
the enchanting scene, and on Oswald, who shared this de- 
licious eve with her, yet might not be thus near for ever, 
that tears flowed from her ey6s. Even the crowd, who 
had just applauded her so tumultuously, respected her 
emotion, and mutely awaited her words, which they trusted 
would make them participators in her feelings. She pre- 
luded for some time on her lyre, then, no longer dividing 
her song into stanzas, abandoned herself- to the uninter- 
rupted stream of verse. 

Some memories of the heart, some woman's manes 
Yet ask your tears. 'Twas at this very place, 
Massena *, that Cornelia kept till death 
Her noble mourning ; Agrippina too 
Long wept Germanicus beside these shores. 
At length the same assassin who deprived 
Her of her husband found she was at last 
Worthy to follow him. And yonder isle + 
Saw Brutus and his Portia bid farewell. 

Thus women loved of heroes have beheld 
The object perish which they so adored. 
Long time in vain they follow'd in their path ; 
There came the hour when they were forced to part. 
Portia destroy'd herself; Cornelia clasp'd 
The sacred urn which answer'd not her cries ; 
And Agrippina, for how many years ! 
Vainly her husband's murderer defied. 
And wander'd here the wretched ones, like ghosts 
On wasted shores of the eternal stream, 

* The retreat of Pompcy. t^Nisida. 

*Q 2 


Sighing to reach the other far-ofF land. 

Did they not ask in their long solitude 

Of silence, of all nature, of the sky, 

Star-shining ? — and from the deep sea, one sound, 

One only tone of the beloved voice 

They never more might hear. 

Mysterious enthusiasm, Love ! 
The heart's supremest power ; — which doth combine 
Within itself religion, poetry, * 
And heroism. Love, what may befall 
When destiny has bade us separate 
From him who has the secret of our soul ; 
Who gave us the heart's life, celestial life. 
What may befall when absence, or when death 
Isolate woman on this earth ?■ — She pines, 
She sinks. How often have these rocks 
Offer'd their cold support to the forlorn ! 
Those once worn in the heart ; — those once sustain'd 
Upon a hero's arm. 

Before you is Sorrento : — dwelling there 
Was Tasso's sister, when the pilgrim came 
Asking asylum 'gainst the prince unjust 
From humble friends : long grief had almost quench'd 
Reason's clear light, but genius still was left. 
Yet kept he knowledge of the things divine, 
When earthly images were all obscured. 
Thus shrinking from the desert spread around 
Doth Genius wander through the world, and finds 
No likeness to itself; no echo given > 
By Nature ; and the common crowd but hold 
As madness that desire of the rapt soul. 
Which finds not in this world enough of air — 
Of high enthusiasm, or of hope. 
For Destiny compels exalted minds: — 
The poet, whose imagination draws 
Its power from loving and from suffering, — 
They are the vanish'd from another sphere. 
For the Almighty goodness might not frame 
All for the few, -— the' elect or the proscribed. 
Why spoke the ancients with such awe of Fate ? 
What had this terrible Fate to do with them, 
The common and the quiet, who pursue 
The seasons, and still follow timidly 
The beaten track of ordinary life ? 
But she, the priestess of the oracle. 
Shook with the presence of the cruel power. 


corinne; ou italy. 229 

I know not what the involuntary force 

That plunges Genius into misery. 

Genius doth catch the music of the spheres, 

Which mortal ear was never meant to know. 

Genius can penetrate the mysteries 

Of feeling, all unknown to other hearts ; 

A power hath entered in the inmost soul, 

Whose presence may not be contained. 

Sublime Creator of this lovely world, 
Protect us : our exertions have no strength ; 
Our hope 's a lie. Tumultuous tyranny 
Our passions exercise, and neither leave 
Repose nor liberty. What we may do 
To-morrow may perhaps decide our fate. ' 
We may have said but yesterday some word 
Which may not be recalled. Still when our mind 
Is elevate with noblest thoughts, we feel 
As on the height of some great edifice, 
Giddiness blending all things in our sight ; 
But even there, woe ! terrible woe ! appears. 
Not lost amid the clouds, it pierces through ; 
It flings the shades asunder ; Oh my God ! 
What doth it herald to us ? " L. E. L. 

At these words a mortal paleness overspread her coun- 
tenance; her eyes closed; and she would have fallen to the 
earth, had not Oswald rushed to support her. 


CoRiNNE revived : the affecting interest of Oswald's look 
restored her to some composure. The Neapolitans were 
surprised at the gloomy character of her poetry, much as 
Ihey admired it. They thought it the Muse's task to dis- 
sipate the cares of life_, and not to explore their terrible 
Secrets ; but the English who were present seemed deeply 
touched. ITieir own melancholy, embellished by Italian 
imagination, delighted them. This lovely woman, whose 
features seemed designed to depict fehcity, — this child of 
the sun, a prey to hidden grief, — was like a flower, still 
« 3 


fresh and brilliant_, but within whose leaves may be seen 
the first dark impress of that withering bHght which soon 
shall lay it low. The party embarked to return: the 
glowing calm of the hour made it a luxury to be upon the 
sea. Goethe has described^ in a delicious romance^ the 
passion felt, in warm climates, for the water. A nymph 
of the flood boasts to the fisherman the charms of her 
abode; invites him to taste its refreshment, and, by degrees, 
allures him to his death. This magic of the tide resembles 
that of the basilisk, which fascinates by fear. The wave 
rising gently afar, swelling, and hurrying as it nears the 
shore, is but a type of passion that dawns in softness, but 
soon grows invincible. Corinne put back her tresses, that 
she might better enjoy the air : her countenance was thus 
more beautiful than ever. The musicians, who followed 
in another boat, poured forth enchantments that harmonised 
with the stars, the sea, and the sweet intoxication of an 
Italian evening. " Oh, my heart's love !" whispered Os- 
wald, '' can I ever forget this day, or ever enjoy a happier } " 
His eyes filled with tears. One of his most seductive 
attributes was this ready yet restrained sensibility, which 
so oft, in spite of him, bedewed his lids : at such moments 
he was irresistible : sometimes even in the midst of an eni 
dearing pleasantry, a melting thrill stole on his mirth, and 
lent it a new, a noble charm. '' Alas ! " returned Corinne, 
" I hope not for another day like this ; , but be it blest, at 
least, as the last such of my life, if forbidden to prove the 
dawn of more endearing bliss." 


The weather changed ere they reached Naples: the heavens 
darkened, and the coming storm, already felt in the air, 
convulsed the waves, as if the sea sympathised with the 
sky. Oswald preceded Corinne, that he might see the 
flambeaux borne the more steadily before her. As they 
neared the quay, he saw some Lazzaroni assembled, crying 
^' Poor creature ! he cannot save himself ! we must h^, 

<;ORINNfij OR ITALV. 231 

patient." — "Of whom speak ye ? " cried Nevil impetuously. 
— " An old man/' they replied, " who was bathing below 
there, not far from the mole ; but the storm has risen : he 
is too weak to struggle with it." Oswald's first impulse 
was to plunge into the water ; then reflecting on the alarm 
he should cause Corinne, when she came, he offered all the 
money he had with him, promising to double it, for the 
man who would swim to this unfortunate being's assistance; 
but the Lazzaroni all refused, saying, " It cannot be, the 
danger is too fearful." At that moment the old man sunk, 
Oswald could hesitate no longer : he threw off his coat, 
end sprang into the sea, spite of its waves, that dashed 
above his head : he buffetted them bravely ; seized the 
sufferer, who must have perished had he been a moment 
later, and brought him to the land ; but the sudden chill 
and violent exertion so overwhelmed Lord Nevil, that he 
had scarcely seen his charge in safety, when he fell on the 
earth insensible, and so pallid, that the by-standers believed 
liim a corpse. (10) It was then that the unconscious 
Corinne beheld the crowd, heard them cry, " He is dead,'* 
and would have drawn back in terror ; when she saw one of 
the Englishmen who had accompanied her, break eagerly 
through the people : she made some steps to follow him ; 
and the first object which met her eye was a portion of 
Oswald's dress, lying on the bank. She seized it with des- 
peration, believing it all that was left of her love ; and when 
she saw him, lifeless as he appeared, she threw herself on 
his breast, in transport, and ardently pressed him to her 
heart : with what inexpressible rapture did she detect that 
his still beat, perhaps re-animated by her presence ! " He 
lives ! " she cried, " he lives ! " and instantly regained a 
strength, a courage, such as his mere friends could scarcely 
equal. She sent for every thing that could revive him : and 
herself applied these restoratives, supporting his fainting 
head upon her breast, and, though she wept over it, for- 
getting nothing, losing not a moment, nor permitting hef 
grief to interrupt her cares. Oswald grew better, but re- 
sumed not yet the use of his senses. She had him carried to 
.his hotel, and, kneeling beside him, bathed his brow with 
stimulating perfumes, calling on him in tones of impassioned 

Q 4 


tenderness that might have waked the dead. He opened 
his eyes, and pressed her hand. For the joy of such a 
moment might one not endure the tortures of demons ? 
Poor human nature ! We guess at infinitude but by suf- 
fering ; and not a bKss in life can compensate the anguish 
of beholding those we love expire. '' Cruel, cruel ! " cried 
Corinne ; " think what you have done !" — '' Pardon," he 
repUed, in a trembling voice. " Believe me, dearest, while 
I thought myself dying, I trembled but for thee." Ex- 
quisite expression of mutual love and confidence ! Corinne, 
to her last day, could not recall those words without a 
fondness, which, while it lasted, taught her to forgive 
him all. 


Oswald's next impulse was to thrust his hand into his bosom 
for his father's portrait : it was still there ; but the water 
had left it scarcely recognisable : he was bitterly afflicted 
by this loss. '^ My God ! " he cried, " dost thou deny me 
even his image ? " Corinne besought his permission to 
restore it : he consented, without much hope : what then 
was his amaze, when, on the third morning she brought it 
to him, not only repaired, but more faithful than ever ! 
" Yes," cried Oswald, ^' you have divined his features and 
his look. This heavenly miracle decides you for my life's 
companion, since to you is thus revealed the memory of 
one who must for ever dispose my fate. Here is the ring 
my father gave his wife — the sacred bond sincerely offered 
by the noblest, and accepted by the most constant of hearts. 
Let me transfer it from my hand to thine, and, while thou 
keepest it, be no longer free. I take this solemn oath, not 
knowing to whom, but in thy soul, I trust, that tells me 
all : the events of your life, if springing from yourself, 
must needs be lofty as your character. If you have been 
the victim to an unworthy fate, thank Heaven I can repair 
it; therefore, my own Corinne, you owe your secrets to 
one whose promises precede your confidence/* — " Oswald,** 

corinne; or italy. 233 

she answered, " this delirium is the result of a mistake. 
I cannot accept your ring till I have undeceived you. 
An inspiration of the heart, you think, taught me your 
father's features : I ought to tell you that I have seen him 
often." — ^' Seen him ! how ? when ? where ? O God I 
who are you, then?" — "Here is your ring," returned 
Corinne, in a smothered tone. — " No," cried Oswald, after 
a moment's pause ; " I swear never to wed another till you 
send back that ring. Forgive the tumult you have raised 
within me : confused and half- forgotten thoughts afflict my 
mind." — "I see it," said Corinne ; " and this shall end : 
already your accents and your words are changed. Per- 
haps when you have read my history, the horrid word 

adieu " — '^ No, no," cried Nevil ; " only from my 

death-bed — fear not that word till then." Corinne retired, 
and, in a few moments, Theresina brought him the papers 
which he was now to read. 




'^ Oswald, I begin with the avowal which must determine 
my fate. If, after reading it, you find it impossible to 
pardon, do not finish this letter, but reject and banish me; 
yet if, when you know the name and destiny I have re- 
nounced, all is not broken between us, what follows may 
then serve as my excuse. 

*' Lord Edgarmond was my father. I was born in Italy : 
his first wife was a Roman ; and Lucy, whom they in- 
tended for your bride, is my sister, by an English lady, — 
by my father's second marriage. Now, hear me ! I lost my 
mother ere I was ten years old, and, as it was her dying 
wish that my education should be finished ere I went to 
England^ I was confided to an aunt at Florence, with whom 

'234« 45011INNE ; OR ITALY. 

.1 lived till I was fifteen. My tastes and talents were formed 
ere her death induced Lord Edgarmond to have me with 
him. He lived at a small town in Northumberland^ which 
cannot, I suppose, give any idea of England; yet was all 
I knew of it for six years. My mother, from my infancy, 
impressed on me the misery of not living in Italy ; my 
aunt had often added, that this fear of quitting her country 
had broken her heart. My good aunt herself was per- 
suaded too that a Catholic would be condemned to perdition 
for settling in a Protestant country ; and though I was not 
infected by this fear, the thought of going to England 
alarmed me much. I set forth with an inexplicable sense 
of sadness. The woman sent for me did not understand 
a word of Italian. I spoke it now and then to console my 
poor Theresina, who had consented to follow me, though 
she wept incessantly at leaving her country ; but I knew 
that I must unlearn the habit of breathing the sweet sounds 
so welcome even to foreigners, and, for me, associated with 
aU the recollections of my childhood. I approached the 
north unable to comprehend the cause of my own changed 
and sombre sensations. It was five years since I had seen 
my father. I hardly recognised him when I reached his 
house. Methought his countenance was very grave ; yet 
he received me with tenderness, and told me I was ex- 
tremely like my mother. My half-sister, then three years 
of age, was brought to me : her skin was fairer, her silken 
curls more golden than I had ever seen before ; we have 
hardly any such faces in Italy ; she astonished and in- 
terested me from the first ; that same day I cut off some 
of her ringlets for a bracelet, which I have preserved ever 
since. At last my step-mother appeared, and the impres- 
sion made on me by her first look grew and deepened dur- 
ing the years I passed with her. Lady Edgarmond was 
exclusively attached to her native county ; and my father, 
whom she over-ruled, sacrificed a residence in London or 
Edinburgh to her wishes. She was a cold, dignified, silent 
person, whose eyes could turn affectionately on her child, 
but who usually wore so positive an air, that it appeared 
impossible to make her understand a new idea, or even one 
phrase to which she had not been accustomed. She met 


me politely, but I soon perceived that my whole manner 
.amazed her, and that she proposed to change it, if she 
could. Not a word was said during dinner, though some 
neighbours had been invited. I was so tired of this silence, 
that, in the midst of our meal, I strove to converse a little 
with an old gentleman who sat beside me. I spoke English 
tolerably, as my father had taught me in childhood; but 
happening to cite some Italian poetry, purely delicate, in 
which there was some mention of love, my mother-in -law^ 
who knew the language slightly, stared at me, blushed^ and 
signed for the ladies, earlier than usual, to withdraw, pre- 
pare tea, and leave the men to themselves during the des- 
sert. * I knew nothing of this custom, which ' would not 
be believed in Venice.* — Society agreeable without women"! 
. — For a moment I thought her Ladyship so displeased that 
she could not remain in the same room with me ; but I 
was re- assured by her motioning me to follow, and never 
reverting to my fault during the three hours we passed in 
the drawing room, waiting for the gentlemen. At supper^ 
however, she told me, gently enough, that it was not usual 
in England for young ladies to talk ; above all, they must 
never think of quoting poetry in which the name of love 
occurred. ^ Miss Edgarmond,' she added, ^ you must en- 
deavour to forget all that belongs to Italy : it is to be wished 
that you had never known such a country.' I passed the 
pight in tears, my heart was oppressed. In the morning 
I attempted to walk : there was so tremendous a fog that 
I could not see the sun, which at least would have reminded 
me of my own land ; but I met my father, who said to me, 
'. My dear child, it is not here as in Italy ; our women have 
no occupations save their domestic duties. Your talents 
may beguile your solitude, and you may win a husband 
who will pride in them ; but in a country town like this, 
all that attracts attention excites envy, and you will never 
marry at all if it is thought that you have foreign manners. 
Here, every one must submit to the old prejudices of an 
obscure county. I passed twelve years in Italy with your 
mother : their memory is very dear to me. I was young 

* If this was Corinne's first English dinner, how did she know the usual 
time for retiring ? — Ta. 


corinne; or italy. 

then, and novelty delightful. I have now returned to my 
original situation, and am quite comfortable ; a regular, 
perhaps rather a monotonous life, makes time pass unper- 
ceived ; one must not combat the habits of a place in which 
one is established ; we should be the sufferers if we did, 
for, in a scene like this, every thing is known, every thing 
repeated ; there is no room for emulation, but sufficient for 
jealousy ; and it is better to bear a little ennui than to be 
beset by wondering faces that every instant demand reasons 
for what you do.' — My dear Oswald, you can form no 
idea of my anguish while my father spoke thus. I remem- 
bered him all grace and vivacity, and I saw him stooping 
beneath the leaden mantle which Dante invented for hell, 
and which mediocrity throws over all who submit to her 
yoke. Enthusiasm for nature and the arts seemed vanish- 
ing from my sight; and my soul, like a useless flame, con- 
sumed myself, having no longer any food from without. 
As I was naturally mild, my stepmother had nothing to 
complain of in my behaviour towards her ; and for my 
father, I loved him tenderly. A conversation with him was 
my only remaining pleasure ; he was resigned, but he knew 
that he was so ; while the generality of our country gen- 
tlemen drank, hunted, and slept, fancying such life the 
wisest and best in the world. Their content so perplexed 
me, that I asked myself if my own way of thinking was 
not a folly, and if this solid existence, which escaped grief, 
in avoiding thought and sentiment, was not far more en- 
viable than mine. What would such a conviction have 
done for me ? it must have taught me to deplore as a mis- 
fortune that genius which in Italy was regarded as a bless- 
ing from heaven. 

" Towards tlie close of autumn the pleasures of the 
chase frequently kept my father from home till midnight. 
During his absence I remained mostly in my own room, 
endeavouring to improve myself : this displeased Lady Ed- 
garmond. ' What good will it do ? ' she said : ^ will you 
be any the happier for it ? ' The words struck me with 
despair. What then is happiness, I thought, if it consist 
not in the developement of our faculties ? Might we not 
as well kill ourselves physically as morally.'* If I must 

corinne; or italy. 237 

stifle my mind, my soul, why preserve the miserable re- 
mains of life that would but agitate me in vain ? But I 
was careful not to speak thus before my mother-in-law. 
I had essayed it once or twice, and her reply was, that 
women were made to manage their husbands' houses, and 
watch over the health of their children : all other accom- 
plishments were dangerous, and the best advice she could 
give me was to hide those I possessed. This discourse, 
though so common-place, was unanswerable ; for enthu- 
siasm is pecidiarly dependent on encouragement, and 
withers like a flower beneath a dark or freezing sky. 
There is nothing easier than to assume a high moral air, 
while condemning all the attributes of an elevated spirit. 
Duty, the noblest destination of man, may be distorted, 
like all other ideas, into an offensive weapon by which nar- 
row minds silence their superiors as their foes. One would 
think, if believing them, that duty enjoined the sacrifice of 
all the qualities that confer distinction ; that wit were a 
fault, requiring the expiation of our leading precisely the 
same lives v/ith those who have none ; but does duty pre- 
scribe like rules to all characters } Are not great thoughts 
and generous feehngs debts due to the world, from all who 
are capable of paying them ? Ought not every woman, 
like every man, to follow the bent of her own talents ? 
Must we imitate the instinct of the bees, whose every sue, 
ceeding swarm copies the last, without improvement or 
variety ? No, Oswald : pardon the pride of your Corinne, 
I believed myself intended for a different career. Yet I 
feel myself submissive to those I love as the females then 
around me, who had neither judgment nor wishes of their 
own. If it pleased you to pass lyour days in the heart of 
Scotland, I should be happy to live and die with you : but 
far from abjuring imagination, it would teach me the better 
to enjoy nature, and the farther the empire of my mind 
extended, the more glory should I feel in declaring you its 

'' Lady Edgarmond was almost as importunate respect- 
ing my thoughts as my actions. It sufficed not that I led 
the same life as herself, it must be from the same motives; 
for she wished all the faculties she did not share to be 


looked on as diseases. We lived pretty near the sea ; at' 
night the north wind whistled through the long corridores 
of our old castle ; by day, even when we re-united, it was 
wondrously favourable to our silence. The weather was 
cold and damp: I could scarce ever leave the house with 
pleasure. Nature now treated me with hostility, and 
deepened my regrets of her sweetness and benevolence in 
Italy. With the winter we removed into the city, if so I 
may call a place without public buildings, theatre, music, 
or pictures. 

" In the smallest Italian towns we have spectacles, im-" 
provisatores, zeal for the fine arts, and a glorious sun ; we' 
feel that we live: — but I almost forgot it in this assembly 
of gossips, this depository of disgusts, at once monotonous 
and varied. Births, deaths, and marriages, composed the 
history of our society ; and these three events here differed 
not the least from what they are elsewhere. Figure to 
yourself what it must have been for me to be seated at a 
tea-table, many hours each day after dinner, with my step- 
mother's guests. These were the seven gravest women in 
Northumberland: — two were old maids of fifty, timid as 
fifteen. One lady would say, ^ My dear, do you think the 
water hot enough to pour on the tea .'' ' — ' My dear,' re- 
plied the other, *^ I think it is too soon ; the gentlemen are 
not ready yet.' — ' Do you think they will sit late, to-day, 
my dear ? ' says a third. — * I don't know,' answers a 
fourth ; ' I believe the election takes place next week, so 
perhaps they are staying to talk over it.' — 'No,' rejoins a 
fifth, ' I rather think that they are occupied by the fox- 
hunt which occurred last week : there will be another on 
Monday ; but for all that, I suppose they will come soon.' — 
^ Ah ! I hardly expect it,' sighs the sixth ; and all again is 
silence.* The convents I had seen in Italy appeared aU 
life to this ; and I knew not what would become of me. 
Every quarter of an hour some voice was raised to ask an 
insipid question, which received a lukewarm reply ; and 
ennui feU back with redoubled weight on these poor wo- 
men, who must have thought themselves most miserable, 

* What a flattering picture of female society, at the country-house of an in. . 
telligent English peer, not fifty years since I — Tr. 


had not habit from infancy instructed them to endure it.' 
At last the gentlemen came up ; yet this long hoped for^ 
moment brought no great change. They continued their, 
conversation round the fire : the ladies sat in the centre of 
the room^ distributing cups of tea ; and^ when the hour of 
departure arrived, each went home with her husband, - 
ready for another day, differing from the last merely by it&- 
date on the almanack. I cannot yet conceive how my 
talent escaped a mortal chill. There is no denying that 
every case has two sides; every subject may be attacked- 
or defended ; we may plead the cause of life, yet much is 
to be said for death, or a state thus resembling it. Such 
was my situation. My voice was a sound either useless or 
troublesome to its hearers. I could not, as in London or 
Edinburgh, enjoy the society of learned men, who, with a 
taste for intellectual conversation, would have appreciated, 
that of a foreigner, even if she did not quite conform with 
the strict etiquettes of their country. I sometimes passed 
whole days with Lady Edgarmond and her friends, with-, 
out hearing one word that echoed eithef thought or feel- 
ing, or beholding one expressive gesture. I looked on the 
faces of young girls, fair, fresh, and beautiful, but per-, < 
fectly immovable. Strange union of contrasts ! All ages . 
partook of the same amusements ; they drank tea, and 
played whist * : women grew old in this routine here» 
Time was sure not to miss them ; he well knew where they 
were to be found. 

" An automaton might have filled my place, and could . 
have done all that was expected of me. In England, as; 
disewhere, the divers interests that do honour to humanity 
worthily occupy the leisure of men, whatever their retire- 
ment ; but what remained for women in this isolated 
corner of the earth ? Among the ladies who visited us. 
there were some not deficient in mind, though they con.^ 
cealed it as a superfluity; and towards forty this slight im- 
pulse of the brain was benumbed like all the rest. Some 
of them I suspected must, by reflection, have matured 
their natural abilities ; sometimes a look or murmured 
accent told of thoughts that strayed from the beaten track ; 
hut the petty opinions, all powerful in their own little 

• Spelt wiskin the original. — Tk. 


sphere, repressed these inclinations. A woman was con- 
sidered insane,, or of doubtful virtue, if she ventured in 
any way to assert herself; and, what was worse than all 
these inconveniences, she could gain not one advantage by 
the attempt. At first I endeavoured to rouse this sleeping 
world. I proposed poetic readings and music, and a day 
was appointed for this purpose ; but suddenly one woman 
remembered that she had been three weeks invited to sup 
with her aunt ; another that she was in mourning for an 
cdd cousin she had never seen, and who had been dead for 
months ; a third that she had some domestic arrangements 
to make at home ; all very reasonable ; yet thus for ever 
were intellectual pleasures rejected ; and I so often heard 
them say ^ that cannot be done,' that, amid so many nega- 
tions, not to live would have been to me the best of all. 
After some debates with myself I gave up my vain 
schemes, not that my father forlbade them, he even enjoined 
his wife to cease tormenting me on my studies ; but her 
insinuations, her gtolen glances while I spoke, a thousand 
trivial hinderances, like the chains the Lilliputians wove 
round GuUiver, rendered it impossible for me to follow my 
own will ; so I ended by doing as I saw others do, though 
dying of impatience and disgust. By the time I had 
passed four weary years thus, I really found, to my severe 
distress, that my mind grew dull, and, in spite of me, was 
filled by trifles. Where no interest is taken in science, 
literature, and liberal pursuits, mere facts and insignificant 
criticisms necessarily become the themes of discourse ; and 
minds, strangers alike to activity and meditation, become' 
so limited as to render all intercourse with them at once' 
tasteless and oppressive. There was no enjoyment near 
me save in a certain methodical regularity, whose desire 
was that of reducing all things to its own level; a constant 
grief to characters called by heaven to destinies of their 
own. The ill will I innocently excited, joined with my' 
sense of the void all round me, seemed to check even my 
breath. Envy is only to be borne where it is excited by ' 
admiration ; but oh the misery of living where jealousy 
itself awakens no enthusiasm ! where we are hated as if 
powerful, though in fact allowed less influence than the 


obscurest of our rivals. It is impossible simply to de- 
spise the opinions of the herd : they sink, in spite of us, 
into the heart_, and lie waiting the moments when our 
own superiority has involved us in distress ; then, then, 
even an apparently temperate ' Well ? ' may prove the most 
insupportable word we can hear. In vain we tell ourselves 
* such a man is unworthy to judge me, such a woman is in- 
capable of comprehending me : ' the human face has great 
power over the human heart; and when we read there a 
secret disapprobation, it haunts us in defiance of our reason. 
The circle which surrounds you always hides the rest of 
the world : the smallest object* close before your eyes in- 
tercepts their view of the sun. So is it with the set among 
whom we dwell : nor Europe nor posterity can render us 
insensible to the intrigues of our next door neighbour; 
and whoever would live happily in the cultivation of genius 
ought to be, above all things, cautious in the choice of ^ * 
immediate mental atmosphere. 


*' My only amusement was the education of my half-sister: 
'her mother did not wish her to learn music, but permitted 
me to teach her drawing and Italian. I am persuaded 
that she must still remember both; for I owe her the 
justice to say that she, even then, evinced great intelligence. 
Oswald, if it was for your happiness I toiled, I shall bless 
my eflPorts, even from the grave. I was now nearly twenty : 
my father wished me to marry, and here the sad fatality 
of ray life began. Lord Nevil was his intimate friend, 
and it was yourself of whom he thought as my husban^. 
Had we then met and loved, our fate would have been 
cloudless. I had heard such praises of you, that, whether 
from presentiment or pride, I was extremely flattered with 
the hope of being your wife. You were too young, for I 
was eighteen months your el<Jer ; but your love of study^ 
they said, outstripped your age ; and I formed so sweet 
an idea of passiijg my days with such a character as yours 



was described^ that I forgot all my prejudices against the 
way of life usual to women in England. I knew_, besides^ 
that you would settle in Edinburgh or London ; in either 
place I was secure of finding congenial friends. I said 
.then_, as I think now, that all my wretchedness sprung 
from my being tied to a little town in the centre of a 
northern county. Great cities alone can suit those who 
deviate from hackneyed rules, if they design to live in 
society : as life is varied there, novelties are welcome; but 
%vhere persons are content with a monotonous routine, 
they love not to be disturbed by the occasional diversion, 
which only shows them the tediousness of their every-day 
life. I am pleased to tell you, Oswald, though I had 
never seen you, that I looked forward with real anxiety to 
the arrival of your father, who was coming to pass a week 
with mine. The sentiment had then too little motive to 
have been aught less than a foreboding of my future. 
When I was presented to Lord Nevil I desired, perhaps 
but too ardently, to please him ; and did infinitely more 
tlian was required for success ; displaying all my talents, 
dancing, singing, and extemporising before him : my long 
imprisoned soul felt but too blest in breaking from its 
chain. Seven years of experience have calmed me. I 
am more accustomed to myself. I know how to wait. 
I have, perchance, less confidence in the kindness of 
others, less eagerness for their applause : indeed, it is 
possible that there was then something sU^ange about me ! 
We have so much fire and imprudence in early youth, one 
faces life with such vivacity ! Mind, however distinguished, 
cannot supply the work of time ; and though v/e may speak 
of the world as if we knew it, we never act up to our own 
views : there is a fever in our ideas that will not let our 
conduct conform with our reasonings. I believe, though not 
with certainty, that I appeared to Lord Nevil somewhat too 
"vvild ; for though he treated me very amiably, yet, when 
he left my father, he said that, after due reflection, he 
thought his son too young for the marriage in question. 
Oswald, what importance do you attach to this confession.'* 
I might suppress it, but I will not. Is it possible, how- 
ever, that it will prove my condemnation } I am, I know. 


tamed now ; and could your parent have witnessed my love 

for you, Oswald you were dear to liim, — we should 

have been heard. My stepmother now formed a project for 
marrying me to the son of her eldest brother, Mr. Mac- 
linson, who had an estate in our neighbourhood. He was 
a man of thirty, rich, handsome, highly born, and of ho- 
nourable character ; but so thoroughly convinced of a hus- 
band's right to govern, and a wife's duty to obey, that a 
doubt on this subject would as much have shocked him 
as a question of his own integrity. The rumours of 
my eccentricity did not alarm him. His house was so 
ordered, the same things were every day performed there 
so punctually to the minute, that any change was impos-. 
sible. The two old aunts who directed his establishment, 
the servants, the very horses, could not to-morrow have 
acted differently from yesterday; nay, the furniture, which 
had served three generations, would have started of its own 
accord had any thing new approached it. The effects of my 
arrival, therefore, might well be defied. Habit there reign- 
ed so securely, that any little liberties I might have taken 
would but have beguiled a quarter of an hour once a week, 
without being of any farther consequence. ]\Ir. Maclinson 
was a good man, incapable of giving pain; yet had I 
spoken to him of the innumerable annoyances which may 
torment an active or a feehng mind, he would have merely 
thought that I had the vapours, and bade me mount my 
horse to take an airing. He desired to marry me, because 
he knew nothing about the wishes of imaginative beings, 
and admired without understanding me : had he but guessed 
that I was a woman of genius, he might have feared that 
he could not please me ; but no such anxiety ever entered 
his head. Judge my repugnance against such an union. 
I decidedly refused. My father supported me : his wife 
from this moment cherished the deepest resentment : 
she was a despot at heart, though timidity often prevented 
her explaining her will : when it was not anticipated, she 
lost her temper; but if resisted, after she had made the 
effort of expressing it, she was the more unforgiving, for 
having been thus fruitlessly drawn from her wonted reserve. 
The whole town was loud in my blame. ^ So prop«»r a 
B 2 


matchj such a fortune_, so estimable a man^ of such a good 
family ! ' was the general cry. I strove to show them why 
this very proper match could not suit me_, and sometimes 
made myself intelligible while speaking ; but when I was 
gone,, my words left no impression : former ideas returned ; 
and these old acquaintance were the more welcome from 
having been a moment banished. One woman^ much more 
mental than the rest^ though she bowed to all their external 
formsj took me aside^ when I had spoken with more than 
usual vivacity^ and said a few words to me which I can 
never forget : — *" You give yourself a great deal of trouble 
to no purpose^ my dear : you cannot change the nature of 
things : a little northern town^ unconnected with the world, 
uncivilised by arts or letters^ must remain what it is. If 
you are doomed to live here^ submit cheerfully; but leave 
it if you can : these are your only alternatives.' This was 
evidently so rational, that I felt a greater respect for her 
than for myself : with tastes like enough to my own, she 
knew how to resign herself beneath the lot which I found 
insupportable: with a love of poetry, she could judge 
better than I the stubbornness of man. I sought to know 
more of her, but in vain : her thoughts wandered beyond 
her home ; but her life was devoted to it. I even believe 
that she dicaded lest her intercourse with me should revive 
her natural superiority; for what could she have done with 
it there ? 


" I MIGHT have passed my life in this deplorable situation 
had I not lost my father. A sudden accident deprived me 
of my protector, my friend, — the only being who had un- 
derstood me in that peopled desert. My despair was 
uncontrollable. I found myself without one support. I 
had no relation save my stepmother, with whom I was no 
More intimate now than on the day I met her first. She 

corinne; or italy. 24-5 

soon renewed the suit of Mr. Maclinson ; and though she 
had no authority to command my marrying him, received 
no one else at her house, and plainly told me that she 
should countenance no other match. Not that she much 
ioved her kinsman ; but she thought me presumptuous in 
refusing him, and made his cause her own, rather for the 
defence of mediocrity than from family pride. Every day 
my state grew more odious. I felt myself attacked by that 
home-sick yearning which renders exile more terrible than 
death. Imagination is displeased by each surrounding ob- 
ject, — the country, climate, language, and customs : life as 
a whole, life in detail, each moment, each circumstance 
has its sting ; for one's own land inspires a thousand plea- 
, sures that we guess not till they are lost. 

" la favella, i costumi, 

L'aria, i tronchi il terren, le mura, il sassi. " 

" Tongue, manners, air, trees, earth, walls, every stone," 

says Metastasio. It is, indeed, a grief no more to look 
upon the scenes of childhood : the charm of their 
memory renews our youth, yet sweetens the thought of 
death. The tomb and cradle there repose in the same 
shade ; while the years spent beneath stranger skies seem 
like branches without roots. The generation which pre- 
ceded yours remembers not your birth ; it is not the 
generation of your sires : a host of mutual interests exist 
between you and your countrymen, which cannot be 
understood by foreigners, to whom you must explain 
every thing, instead of finding the initiated ease that bids 
your thoughts flow forth secure the moment you meet 
a compatriot. I could not remember without emotion, 
such amiable expressions as ^ CarUy Carissima : ' I repeated 
them as I walked alone, in imitation of the kindly welcomes 
so contrasted with the greetings I now received. Every 
day I wandered into the fields. Of an evening, in Italy, I 
had been wont to hear rich music ; but now the cawing 
of rooks alone resounded beneath the clouds. The fruits 
could scarcely ripen. I siw no vines : the languid flower« 
R 3 



succeeded each other slowly ; black pines covered the 
hills : an antique edifice, or even one fine picture, vpould 
have been a relief, for which I should have sought thirty 
miles round in vain,* All was dull and sullen : the 
houses and their inhabitants served but to rob solitude of 
Its poetic horrors. There was enough of commerce and 
of agriculture near for them to say, ' You ought to be 
content, you want for nothing/ Stupid superficial judg- 
nient ! The hearth of happiness or suffering is in our own 
breast's secret sanctuary. At twenty-one I had a right to 
my mother's fortune, and whatever my father had left me. 
Then did I first dream of returning to Italy, and devoting 
my life to the arts. This project so inebriated me with 
joy, that, at first, I couU anticipate no objections ; yet, 
as my feverish hope subsided, I feared to take an irre- 
parable resolve, and thought on what tny acquaintance 
might say, to apian which, from appearing perfectly easy, 
now seemed utterably impracticable ; yet the image of a 
life in the midst of antiquities and arts was detailed 
before my mind's eye with so many charms, that I felt 
a fresh disgust at my tiresome existence. My talent, 
which I had feared to lose, had increased by my constant 
study of English hterature. The depth of thought and 
feeling which characterises your poets had strengthened 
my mind without impairing my fancy. I therefore pos- 
sessed the advantages of a double education and twofold 
nationalities. I remembered the approbation paid by a 
few good critics in Florence to my first poetical essays, 
and prided in the added success I might obtain; in sooth, 
I had great hopes of myself. And is not such the first, 
the noblest illusion of youth } Methought that I should 
be mistress of the universe, the moment I escaped the 
withering breath of vulgar malice ; but when I thought 
of flying in secret, I felt awed by that opinion which 
swayed me much more in England than in Italy ; for 
though I could not like the town where I resided, I 

* Corinne should have rather lamented that she was not permitted to ex- 
plore the county which contains Alnwick, Hexham, Tyneniouth, Holy Isle, i 
and so many other scenes dear to the lovers of antiquity, the fine arts, historyv 
and nature. — Tr. 


respected, as a vAiole, the country of which it was a part. 
If my mother-in-law had deigned to take me to London 
or Edinburgh, if she had thought of marrying me to a 
man of mind, I should never have renounced my name, 
even for the sake of returning to my own country. In 
fact, severe as she was, I never could have found the 
strength to alter my destiny, but for a multitude of cir- 
cumstances which conspired to terminate my uncertainty. 
The'resina is a Tuscan, and, though uneducated, she con- 
verses in those noble and melodious phrases that lend 
such grace to the discourse of our people. She was 
the only person with whom I spoke my own language ; 
and this tie attached me to her. I often found her sad, 
and dared not ask why, not doubting that she, like myself, 
regretted our country. I knew that I should have been 
unable to restrain my own feelings, if excited by those of 
another. There are griefs that are ameliorated by commu- 
nication ; but imaginary ills augment if confided, above 
^U, to a fellow-sufferer. A woe so sanctioned we no 
longer strive to combat. My poor Theresina suddenly 
became seriously ill ; and hearing her groan night and? 
day, I determined to enquire the cause. Alas, she de- 
scribed exactly what I had felt myself. She had not reflected 
on the source of her pangs, and attached more importance 
to local circumstances and particular persons ; but the 
sadness of the country, the insipidity of the town, the 
coldness of its natives, the constraint of their habits, — she 
felt as I did, and cried incessantly, ' Oh, my native land ! 
shall I never see you more ? * yet added, that she would 
not leave me, in heart-breaking tones, unable to reconcile 
her love for me with her attachment to our fair skies 
and mother-tongue. Nothing more affected my spirits 
than this reflex of my own feelings in a common mind, 
but one that had preserved the Italian taste and character 
in all its natural vivacity. I promised her that she should 
see her home again. ' With you ? ' she asked. I was silent : 
then she tore her hair, again declaring that she could never 
leave me, though looking ready to expire before my eyes 
as she said so. At last a promise that I would return with 
R 4 > 



her escaped rhe ; and though spoken but to soothe her, 
the joyous faith she gave it rendered it solemnly binding. 
From that day she cultivated the intimacy of some traders 
in the town, and punctually informed me when any vessel 
sailed from the neighbouring port for Genoa or Leghorn. 
I heard her, but said nothing : she imitated my silence ; 
but her eyes filled with tears. My health suffered daily 
from the climate and anxiety. My mind requires gaiety. 
I have often told you that grief would kill me. I struggle 
against it too much; to live beneath sorrow one must 
yield to it. I frequently returned to the idea which had 
so occupied me since my father's death ; but I loved Lucy 
dearly ; she was now nine years old : for six had I watched 
over her like a second mother. I thought, too, that, if I 
departed privately, I should injure my own reputation, and 
tliat the name of my sister might thus be sullied. This ap- 
l^rehension, for the time, banished all my schemes. One 
evening, however, when I was more than usually depressed^ 
I found myself alone with Lady Edgarmond ; and, after 
an hour's silence, took so sudden a distaste towards her 
imperturbable frigidity, that I began the conversation, by 
lamenting the life I led, rather to force her to speak, than 
to achieve any other result ; but as I grew animated, I 
represented the possibility of my leaving England for ever. 
My mother-in-law was not at all alarmed ; but with a dry 
indifference, which I shall never forget, replied, ' You are 
of age. Miss Edgarmond ; your fortune is your own ; you 
are the mistress of your conduct : but if you take any step 
which would dishonour you in the eyes of the world^ 
you owe it to your family to change your name, and be 
reported dead.' This heartless scorn inspired me with such 
indignation, that for a while a desire for vengeance, foreign 
to my nature, .s..ized on my soul. That impulse left me; 
but the conviction that no one was interested in my wel- 
fare broke every link which, till then, had bound me to 
the house where I had seen my father. His wife certainly 
had never pleased me, save by her tenderness for Lucy. 
I believed that I must have conciliated her by the pains 
I had bestowed on her child; which, perhaps, rather 

corinne; or italy. 249 

excited her jealousy ; for the more sacrifices she im- 
posed on her other incKnations, the more passionately she 
indulged the sole affection she permitted herself. All that 
is quick and ardent in the human breast^ mastered by her 
reason in her other connections^ spoke from her counte- 
nance when any thing concerned her daughter. At the 
height of my resentment, Theresina came to me_, in 
extreme emotion, with tidings that a ship had arrived 
from Leghorn, on board which were some traders whom 
she knew : ' the best people in the world/ she added, 
weeping ; ' for they are all Italians, can speak nothing but 
Italian : in a week they sail again for Italy ; and if madame 

is decided ' — ' Return with them, my good Theresina V 

said I. — ^ No, madame ; I would rather die here.' She 
left the room, and I mused over my duty to my step- 
mother. It was plain that she did not wish to have me 
with her ; my influence over Lucy displeased her ; she 
feared that the name I had gained there, as an extraordi- 
nary person, would, one day, interfere with the estabhsh- 
ment of my sister : she had told me the secret of her 
heart, in desiring me to pass for dead ; and this bitter 
advice, which had, at first, so shocked me, now appeared 
reasonable enough. ^ Yes, doubtless I may pass for dead, 
where my existence is but a disturbed sleep,' said I. ' With 
nature, with the sun, the arts, 1 shall awaken, and the 
poor letters which compose my name, graven on an idle 
tomb, will fill my station here as well as I.' These mental 
leaps towards liberty gave me not yet sufficient power for 
a decided aim. There are moments when we trust the 
force of our own wishes ; others in which the habitual 
order of things assumes a right to over-rule all the senti- 
ments of the soul. I was in a state of indecision which 
might have lasted for ever, as nothing obliged me to take 
an active part ; but on the Sunday following my convers- 
ation with Lady Edgarmond I heard, towards evening, 
beneath my window, some Italians singing : they belonged 
to the ship from Leghorn. Theresina had brought them 
to give me this agreeable surprise. I cannot express what 
I felt : a torrent of tears deluged my cheeks. All my 

250 comnne; ob italy. 

recollections were revived : nothing recalls the past like 
music : it does more than depict, it conjures it back_, like 
some beloved shade, veiled in mysterious melancholy. The 
musicians sung the delicious verses composed by Monti 
in his exile : — 

* Bella Italia ! amate sponde ! 
Pur vi torno, a riveder, 
Trema in petto, e si confonde, 
JL'alma oppressa dal placer ! * 

* Beauteous Italia ! beloved ever ! 
Shall I behold thy shore again? 
Trembling — bewildered — my bonds I sever — 
Pleasure oppresses my heart and brain. ' 

In a kind of dehrium I felt for Italy all love can make one 
feel — desire, enthusiasm, regret. 1 was no longer mistress 
of myself ; my whole soul was drawn towards my country : 
I yearned to see it, hear it, taste its breath ; each throb of 
my heart was a call to my own smiUng land. Were Hfe 
offered to the dead, they would not dash aside the stone 
that kept them in the tomb with more impatience than I 
felt to rush from all the gloom around me, and once more 
take possession of my fancy, my genius, and of nature. 
Yet, at that moment, my sensations were too confused for 
me to frame one settled idea. My stepmother entered my 
room, and begged that I would order them, to cease singing, 
as it was scandalous on the Sabbath. I insisted that they 
were to embark on the morrow, and that it was six years 
since I had enjoyed such a pleasure. She would not hear . 
me; but said that it behoved us, above all things, to 
respect the customs of the place in which we lived ; then, 
from the window, bade her servants send my poor coun- 
trymen away. They departed, singing me, as they went, 
an adieu that pierced me to the heart. The measure of my 
temptation was full. Theresina> at all hazards, had, un- 
known to me, made every preparation for my flight. Lucy 
had been away a week with a relative of her mother. 
The ashes of my father did not repose in the country- 
house we inhabited : he had ordered his tomb to be erected 



on his Scotch estate.* Enough : I set forth without warn- 
ing my stepmother, but left a letter, apprising her of my 
plans. I started in one of those moments at which we give 
ourselves up to destiny, when any thing appears preferable 
to servitude and insipidity ; when youth inconsiderately 
trusts the future, and sees it, in the heavens, like a bright star 
that promises a happy lot. 


" More anxious thoughts attacked me as I lost sight of the 
English coast; but as I had not left there any strong 
attachment, I was soon consoled, on arriving at Leghorn, 
and reviewing the charms of Italy. I told no one my true 
namef, and took merely that of Corinne, which the history 
of a Grecian poetess, the friend of Pindar, had endeared to 
me. (11) My person was so changed that I was secure against 
recognition. I had lived so retired in Florence, that I had 
a right to anticipate my identity's remaining unknown in 
Rome. Lady Edgarmond wrote me word of her having 
spread the report that the physicians had prescribed a 
voyage to the south for my health, and that I had died on 
my passage. Her letter contained no comments. She re- 
mitted, with great exactness, my whole fortune, which was 
considerable ; but wrote to me no more. Five years then 
elapsed ere I beheld you ; during which I tasted much 
good fortune. My fame increased : the fine arts and liter- 
ature afforded me even more delight in solitude than m 
ray own success. I knew not, till I met you, the full power 
of sentiment : my imagination sometimes coloured and dis- 
coloured my illusions without giving me great uneasiness. 
I had not yet been seized by any affection capable of over- 
ruling me. Admiration, respect, and love had not en- 
chained all the faculties of my soul: I conceived more 

• Did the authoress think it usual for the English to be buried in their own 
grounds, whether consecrated or not? — Tr. 
t Her real Christian name is never divulged even to the reader.— Tr. 


charms than I ever found, and remained superior to my 
own impressions. Do not insist on my describing to you 
how two men, whose passion for me is but too generally 
known, successively occupied my life, before I knew you. 
I outrage my own conviction in now reminding myself 
that any one, save you, could ever have interested me : on 
this subject 1 feel equal grief and repentance. I shall only 
tell you what you have already heard from my friends. 
My free life so much pleased me, that, after long irreso- 
lutions and painful scenes, I twice broke the ties which the 
necessity of loving had made me contract, and could not 
resolve to render them irrevocable. A German noble would 
have married and taken me to his own country. An Italian 
prince offered me a most brilliant establishment in Rome. 
The first pleased and inspired me with the highest esteem ; 
but, in time, I perceived that he had few mental resources. 
When we were alone together, it cost me great trouble to 
sustain a conversation, and conceal from him his own de- 
ficiencies. I dared not display myself at my best for fear 
of embarrassing him. I foresaw that his regard for me 
must necessarily decrease when I should cease to manage 
him ; and it is difficult, in such a case, to keep up one's en- 
thusiasm : a woman's feeling for a man any way inferior 
to herself is rather pity than love ; and the calculations, the 
reflections required by such a state, wither the celestial 
nature of an involuntary sentiment. The Italian pripee 
was all grace and fertility of mind : he participated in my 
tastes, and loved my way of life ; but, on an important oc- 
casion, I remarked that he wanted energy, and that, in 
any difficulties, I should have to sustain and fortify him. 
There was an end of love — for women need support; 
and nothing chills them more than the necessity of affording 
it. Thus was I twice undeceived, not by faults or mis- 
fortunes, but by the spirit of observation, which detected 
what imagination had concealed. I beheved myself des- 
tined never to love with the full power of my soul : some- 
times this idea pained me ; but more frequently I applauded 
my own freedom — fearing the capability of suffering that 
impassioned impulse which might threaten my happiness 
and my life. I always re-assured myself in thinking that 


my judgn».ent was not easily captivated, and that no man 
could answer my ideal of masculine mind and character, 
I hoped ever to escape the absolute power of love, by per- 
ceiving some defects in those who charmed me. I then 
knew not that there are faults which increase our passion 
by the inquietude they cause. Oswald ! the melancholy 
indecision which discourages you — the severity of your 
opinions — troubles my repose, without decreasing my 
affection. I often think that it will never make me 
happy ; but then it is always myself 1 judge, and not 
you. And now you know my history — my flight from 
England — my change of name — my heart's inconstancy: — 
I have concealed nothing. Doubtless you think that fancy 
hath oft misled me ; but, if society bound us not by chains 
from which men are free, what were there in my life which 
should prevent your loving me } Have I ever deceived ? 
have I ever wronged any one ? has my mind been seared 
by vulgar interests .f^ Sincerity, good will, and pride — 
does God ask more from an orphan alone in the world ? 
Happy the women who, in their early youth, meet those 
they ought to love for ever ; but do I the less deserve you 
for having known you too late ? Yet, I assure you, my 
Lord, and you may trust my frankness, could I but pass my 
life near you, methinks, in spite the loss of the greatest 
happiness and glory I can imagine, I would not be your 
wife. Perhaps such marriage were to you a sacrifice : 
you may one day regret the fair Lucy, my sister, to whom 
your father destined you. She is twelve years my younger ; 
her name is stainless as the first flower of spring : we 
should be obliged, in England, to revive mine, which is 
now as that of the dead. Lucy, I know, has a pure and 
gentle spirit : if I may judge from her childhood, she may 
become capable of understanding — loving you. Oswald, 
you are free. When you desire it, your ring shall be re- 
stored to you. Perhaps you wish to hear, ere you decide, 
what I shall suflTer if you leave me. I know not : some- 
times impetuous impulses arise within me, that over-rule 
my reason : should I be to blame, then, if they rendered 
life insupportable ? It is equally true that I have a great 
faculty of happiness ; it interests me in every thing : I 

254 coRiyNE ; ob italy. 

converse with pleasure^ and revel in the minds of others-r— 
in the friendship they show me — in all the wonders of art 
and nature, which affectation hath not stricken dead. But 
would it be in my power to live when I no longer saw you ? 
it is for you to judge, Oswald : you know me better than 
I know myself. 1 am not responsible for what I may ex- 
perience : it is he who plants the dagger should guess 
whether the wound is mortal ; but if it were so I should 
forgive you. My happiness entirely depends on the affection 
you have paid me for the last six months. I defy all your 
delicacy to blind me, were it in the least degree impaired. 
Banish from your mind all idea of duty. In love I ac- 
knowledge no promises, no security : God alone can raise 
the flower which storms have blighted. A tone, a look, 
will be enough to tell me that your heart is not the same ; 
and I shall detest all you may offer me instead of love — 
your love, that heavenly ray, my only glory ! Be free, 
then, Nevil ! now — ever — even if my husband; for, did 
you cease to love, my death v/ould free you from bonds 
that else would be indissoluble. When you have read this, 
I would see you : my impatience will bring me to your 
side, and I shaU read my fate at a glance ; for grief is a 
rapid poison, — and the heart, though weak, never mistakes 
the signal of irrevocable destiny. Adieu." 







It was with deep emotion that Oswald read the narrative 
of Corinne : many and varied were the confused thoughts 
that agitated him. Sometimes he felt hurt hy the picture 
she drew of an English county, and despairingly exclaimed, 
" Such a woman could never be happy in domestic life!" 
then he pitied what she had suffered there, and could not 
but admire the simple frankness of her recital. He was 
jealous of the affections she had felt ere she met him ; and 
the more he sought to hide this from himself the more it 
tortured him ; but above all was he afflicted by his father's 
part in her history. His anguish was such that, not know- 
ing what he did, he rushed forth, beneath the noonday 
sun, when the streets of Naples were deserted, and their in- 
habitants all secluded in the shade. He hurried at random 
towards Portici : the beams which fell on his brow at onoe 
excited and bewildered his ideas. Corinne, meanwhile, 
having waited for some hours, could no longer resist her 
desire to see him. She entered his room ; he was not there: 
his absence, at such a crisis, fearfully alarmed her. She 
saw her papers on the table, and doubted not that, after 
reading them, he had left her for ever. Each moment's 
attempt at patience added to her distress : she walked the 
chamber hastily, then stopped, in fear of losing the least 
gound that might announce his return ; at last, unable to 

256 CORINN] 


control her anxiety, she descended to enquire if any one 
had seen Lord Nevil go out, and which way he went. The 
master of the inn repHed, * Towards Portici;' adding, 
' that his Lordship surely would not walk far at such a 
dangerous period of the day.' This terror, blending with 
so many others, determined Corinne to follow him, though 
her head was undefended from the sun. The large white 
pavements of Naples, formed of lava, redoubling the light 
and heat, scorched and dazzled her as she walked. She did 
not intend going to Portici, yet advanced towards it with 
increasing speed, meeting no one; for even the animals 
now shrunk from the ardours of the clime. Clouds of dust 
filled the air, with the slightest breeze, covering the fields, 
and concealing all appearance of verdant life. Every in- 
stant Corinne felt about to fall ; not even a tree was near 
to support her. Reason reeled in this burning desert : a 
few steps more, and she might reach the royal palace, be- 
neath whose porch she would find both shade and water ; 
but her strength failed — she could no longer see her way — 
her head swam — a thousand flames, more vivid even than 
the blaze of day, danced before her eyes — an unrefreshing 
darkness suddenly succeeded them — a cruel thirst consumed 
her. One of the Lazzaroni, the only human creature ex- 
pected to brave these fervid horrors, now came up : she. 
prayed him to bring her a little water ; but the man, be- 
holding so beautiful and elegant a woman alone, on foot, 
at such an hour, concluded that she must be insane, and 
ran from her in dismay. Fortunately Oswald at this 
moment returned : the voice of Corinne reached his ear. 
He hastened towards her, as she was falling to the earth 
insensible, and bore her to the palace portico, where he 
called her back to life by the tenderest cares. As she 
recognised him, her senses still wandered, and she wildly 
exclaimed, " You promised never to depart without my 
consent ! I may now appear unworthy of your love ; but a 
promise, Oswald!" — ^' Corinne," he cried, " the thought 
of leaving you never entered my heart. I would only reflect 
on our fate; and wished to recover my spirits ere I saw 
you again." — '' Well," she said, struggling to appear calm, 
**^ you have had time, during the long hours that might 

oorinne; or italy. 257 

have cost my life ; time enough — therefore speak ! tell me 
what have you resolved ? " Oswald, terrified at the accents, 
which betrayed her inmost feelings, knelt before her, an- 
swering, " Corinne, my heart is unchanged ; what have I 
learnt that should dispel your enchantment? Only hear 
me ; " and as she trembled still more violently, he added, 
with much earnestness, " Listen fearlessly to one who cannot 
live, and know thou art unhappy." — '' Ah," she sighed, 
" it is of my happiness you speak ; your own, then, no 
longer depends on me? Yet I repulse not your pity; for, 
at this moment, I have need of it : but think you I will 
live for that alone ? " — " No, no, we will both live for 
love. I will return." — '*^ Return!" interrupted Corinne, 
" Ah, you do go, then ? What has happened ? how is all 
changed since yesterday! hapless wretch that I am!" — 
" Dearest love," returned Oswald, ^' be composed ; and let 
me, if I can, explain my meaning; it is better than you 
suppose, much better ; but it is necessary, nevertheless, 
that I should ascertain my father's reasons for opposing 
our union seven years since : he never mentioned the sub- 
ject to me ; but his most intimate surviving friend, in 
England, must know his motives. If, as 1 believe, they 
sprung from unimportant circumstances, I can pardon your 
desertion of your father's land and mine ; to so noble a 
country love may attach you yet, and bid you prefer home- 
felt peace, with its gentle and natural virtues, even to the 
fame of genius. I will hope every thing, do every thing ; 
if my father decides against thee, Corinne, I will never be 
the husband of another, though then I cannot be thine.'' 
A cold dew stood on his brow : the effort he had made to 
speak thus cost him so much agony, that for some time 
Corinne could think of nothing but the sad state in which 
she beheld him. At last she took his hand, crying, ^' So, 
you return to England without me." Oswald was silent. 
" Cruel ! " she continued : " you say nothing to contradict 
my fears ; they are just, then, though even while saying so 
I cannot yet believe it." — " Thanks to your cares," an- 
swered Nevil, " I have regained the life so nearly lost : it 
belongs to my country during the war. If I can marry 
you, we part no more. I will restore you to your rank in 


England. If this too happy lot should be forbidden me, I 
shall return, with the peace, to Italy, stay with you long, 
and change your fate in nothing save in giving you one 
faithful friend the more." — " Not change my fate!" she 
repeated ; '^ you, who have become my only interest in the 
world ! to whom I owe the intoxicating draught which 
gives happiness or death ? Yet tell me, at least, this 
parting, when must it be ? How many days are left me ?" 
— ^'Beloved !" he cried, pressing her to his heart, "I swear, 
that for three months I will not leave thee; not, perhaps, 
even then." — "Three months!" she burst forth; "am 
I to live so long ? it is much, I did not hope so much. 
Come, I feel better. Three months? — what a futurity!" 
she added, with a mixture of joy and sadness, that pro- 
foundly affected Oswald ; and both, in silence, entered the 
carriage which took them back to Naples. 


Castel Forte awaited them at the inn. A report had 
been circulated of their marriage : it greatly pained the 
Prince, yet he came to assure himself of the fact, to regain, 
as a friend, the society of his love, even if she were for ever 
united to another. The state of dejection in which he be- 
held her, for the first time, occasioned him much uneasi- 
ness ; but he dared not question her, as she seemed to 
avoid all conversation on this subject. There are situations 
which we dread to confide in any one ; a single word, that 
we might say or hear, would suffice to dissipate the illusion 
that supports our life. The self-deceptions of impassioned 
sentiment have the peculiarity of humouring the heart, as 
we humour a friend whom we fear to afflict by the truth ; 
thus, unconsciously, trust we our own griefs to the protection 
of our own pity. 

Next day, Corinne, who was too natural a person to 
attempt producing an effect by her sorrows, strove to appear 
gay ; believing that the best method of retaining Oswald 

corinne; or italf. 259 

was to seem as attractive as formerly. She, therefore, in- 
troduced some interesting topic ; but suddenly her abstrac- 
tion returned, her eyes wandered : the woman who had 
possessed the greatest possible facility of address now 
hesitated in her choice of words, and sometimes used ex- 
pressions that bore not the slightest reference to what she 
intended saying : then she would laugh at herself, though 
through tears ; and Oswald, overwhelmed by the wreck he 
had made, would have sought to be alone with her, but she 
carefully denied him an opportunity. 

" What would you learn from me ? " she said one day, 
when, for an instant, he insisted on speaking with her. " 1 
regret myself — that is all ! I had some pride in my 
talents. I loved success, glory. The praises, even of in- 
different persons, were objects of my ambition ; now I care 
for nothing : and it is not happiness that weans me from 
these vain pleasures, but a vast discouragement. I accuse 
not you; it springs from myself; perhaps I may yet tri- 
umph over it. Many things pass in the depths of the scul 
that we can neither foresee nor direct ; but I do you justice, 
Oswald : I see you suffer for me. I sympathise with you, 
too : why should not pity bestow her gifts on us ? Alas ! 
they might be offered to all who breathe, without proving 
very inapplicable." 

Oswald, indeed, was not less wretched than Corinne. 
He loved her strongly ; but her history had wounded his 
affections, his way of thinking. He seemed to perceive 
clearly that his father had prejudged every thing for him ; 
and that he could only wed Corinne in defiance of such 
warning ; — yet how resign her ? His uncertainty was more 
painful than that which he hoped to terminate by a know- 
ledge of her life. On her part, she had not wished that the 
tie of marriage should unite her to Oswald ; so she could 
have been certain that he would never leave her, she would 
have wanted no more to render her content ; but she knew 
him well enough to understand, that he could conceive no 
happiness save in domestic life; and would never abjure 
the design of marrying her, unless in ceasing to love. His 
departure for England appeared the signal for her death. 
She was aware how great an influence the manners and 
s 2 

260 gorinne; or italy. 

opinions of his country held over his mind. Vainly did he 
talk of passing his life with her in Italy : she doubted not 
that, once returned to his home, the thought of quitting it 
again would be odious to him. She felt that she owed her 
power to her charms; and what is that power in absence? 
What are the memories of imagination to a man encircled 
by all the realities of social order, the more imperious from 
being founded on pure and noble reason ? Tormented by 
these reflections, Corinne strove to exert some power over 
her fondness. She tried to speak with Castel Forte on 
literature and the fine arts ; but, if Oswald joined them, 
the dignity of his mien, the melancholy look which seemed 
to ask, '^ Why will you renounce me ?" disconcerted all her 
attempts. Twenty times would she have told him, that his 
irresolution offended her, and that she was decided to leave 
him ; but she saw him now lean his head upon his hand, 
as if bending breathless beneath his sorrows ; now musing 
beside the sea, or raising his eyes to heaven, at the sound 
of music ; and these simple changes, whose magic was 
Ijnown but to herself, suddenly overthrew her determin- 
gition. A look, an accent, a certain grace of gesture, re- 
veals to love the nearest secrets of the soul ; and, perhaps^ 
a countenance, so apparently cold as Nevil's, can never be 
read, save by those to whom it is dearest. Impartiality 
guesses nothing, judges only by what is displayed. Co- 
rinne, in solitude, essayed a test which had succeeded 
when she had but believed that she loved. She taxed her 
spirit of observation (which was capable of detecting the 
slightest foibles) to represent Oswald beneath less seducing 
colours ; but there was nothing about him less than noble, 
simple, and affecting. How then defeat the spell of so per- 
fectly natural a mind ? It is only affectation which can at 
once awaken the heart, astonished at ever having loved. 
Besides, there existed between Oswald and Corinne a sin- 
gular, all-powerful sympathy. Their tastes were not the 
same; their opinions rarely accorded; yet in the centre of 
each soul dwelt kindred mysteries, drawn from one source; 
a secret likeness, that attests the same nature, however 
differently modified by external circumstances. Corinne, 
therefore, found to her dismay, that she had but increased 

corijsne; or italy. 261 

her passion, by thus minutely considering Oswald anew, 
even in her very struggle against his image. She invited 
Castel Forte to return to Rome with them. Nevil knew 
she did this to avoid being alone with him : he felt it sadly, 
but could not oppose. He was no longer persuaded, that 
what he might offer Corinne would constitute her content ; 
and this thought rendered him timid. She, the while, had 
hoped, that he would refuse the Prince's company. Their 
situation was no longer honest as of old : though as yet 
without actual dissimulation, restraint already troubled a 
regard, which for six months had daily conferred on them 
a bliss almost unqualified. Returning by Capua and Gaeta, 
scenes which she had so lately visited with such delight, 
Corinne felt that these beauties vainly called on her to reflect 
their smile. When such a sky fails to disperse the clouds 
of care, its laughing contrast but augments their gloom. 

They arrived at Terracina on a deliciously refreshing 
eve. Corinne withdrew after supper. Oswald went forth, 
and his heart, like hers, led him towards the spot where 
they had rested on their way to Naples. He beheld her, 
kneeling before the rock on which they sat; and, as he 
looked on the moon, saw that she was veiled by a cloud, as 
she had been two months since at that hour. Corinne, at 
his approach, rose, and pointing upwards, said, " Have I 
not reason to believe in omens } Is there not some com- 
passion in that heaven ? It warned me of the future ; and 
to-night, you see, it mourns for me. Forget not, Oswald, 
to remark, if such a cloud passes not over the moon when 
I am dying." — " Corinne," he cried, ''have I deserved 
that you should kill me ? It were easily done : speak thus 
again, and you will see how easily, — but for what crime? 
Your mode of thinking lifts you above the world's opinion: 
in your country it is not severe ; and if it were, your genius 
could surmount it. "Whatever happens, I will live near 
you ; whence, then, this despair ? If I cannot be your 
husband, without offence to the memory of one who reigns 
equally with yourself in my breast, — do you not love me 
well enough to find some solace in the tender devotion of 
mine every instant. Have you not still my ring? that 
sacred pledge?" — "I will return it, Oswald."— '-'Never i'' 
s 3 

262 ' corinne; or Italy. 

— " Ah^ yes, when you desire it ; the ring itself will tell 
me. An old legend says_, that the diamond^ more true than 
man, dims when the giver has betrayed our trust." (I) 
— *' Corinne," said Oswald, '^' dare you speak such treason? 
your mind is lost; it no longer knows me." — " Pardon! 
oh, pardon me ! in love like mine, the heart, Oswald, is 
gifted suddenly with most miraculous instincts ; and its 
own sufferings become oracles. What portends, then, the 
heavy palpitation of my heart ? Ah, love, I should not 
fear it, if it were but my knell ! " She fled, precipitately, 
dreading to remain longer with him. She could not dally 
with her grief, but sought to break from it ; yet it returned 
but the more violently for her repulse. The next day, as 
they crossed the Pontine Marsh, Oswald's care of her was 
even more scrupulous than before ; she received it with the 
sweetest thankfulness : but there was something in her look 
that said, " Why will you not let me die } " 


What a desert seems Rome, in going to it from Naples ! 
Entering by the gate of St. John Late^an, you traverse 
but long solitary streets ; they please afresh after a little 
time ; but, on just leaving a lively, dissipated population, 
it is melancholy to be thrown upon one's self, even were 
that self at ease. Besides this, Rome, towards the end 
of July, is a dangerous residence. The malaria renders 
many quarters uninhabitable ; and the contagion often 
spreads through the whole city. This year, particularly, 
every face bore the impress of apprehension. Corinne 
was met at her own door by a monk, who asked leave to 
bless her house against infection : she consented ; and the 
priest walked through the rooms, sprinkling holy water, 
and repeating Latin prayers. Lord Nevil smiled at this 
ceremony — Corinne's heart melted over it. "I find in- 
definable charms," she said^ '' in all that is religious, or 

corinne; or Italy* 26S 

even superstitious, while nothing hostile nor intolerant 
blends with it. Divine aid is so needful, when our 
thoughts stray from the common path, that the highest 
minds most require superhuman care." — " Doubtless 
such want exists, but can it thus be satisfied ? " — " I 
never refuse a prayer associated with my own, from whom- 
soever it is offered me." — " You are right," said Nevil, 
giving his purse to the old friar, who departed, with be- 
nedictions on them both. When the friends of Corinne 
heard of her return, they flocked to see her : if any won- 
dered that she was not Oswald's wife, none, at least, asked 
the reason : the pleasure of regaining her diverted them 
from every other thought. Corinne endeavoured to appear 
unchanged ; but she could not succeed. She revisited the 
works of art that once afforded her such vivid pleasure ; 
but sorrow was the base of her every feeling now. At the 
Villa Borghese, or the tomb of Ceciha Metella, she no 
longer enjoyed that reverie on the instability of human 
blessings, which lends them a still more touching character. 
A fixed, despondent pensiveness absorbed her. Nature, 
who ever speaks to the heart vaguely, can do nothing for 
it when oppressed by real calamities. Oswald and Corinne 
were worse than unhappy ; for actual misery oft causes 
such emotions as relieve the laden breast ; and from 
the storm may burst a flash pointing the onward way: 
but mutual restraint, and fruitless efforts to escape pur- 
suing recollections, made them even discontented with one 
another. Indeed, how can we suffer thus, without ac- 
cusing the being we love as the cause .'* True, a w^ord, a 
look, suffices to efface our displeasure ; but that look, that 
word, may not come when most expected, or most needful. 
Nothing in love can be premeditated ; it is as a power 
divine, that thinks and feels within us unswayed by our 

A fever, more malignant than had been known in Rome 
for some years, now broke out suddenly. A young woman 
was attacked : her friends and family refused to fly, and 
perished with her. The next house experienced the same 
devastation. Every hour a holy fraternity, veiled in white, 
accompanied the dead to interment ; themselves appearing 
s 4 



like the ghosts of those they followed. The bodies, with 
their faces uncovered, are borne on a kind of litter. Over 
their feet is thrown a pall of gold or rose-colour satin; 
and children often unconsciously play with the cold hands 
of the corpse. This spectacle, at once terrific and familiar, 
is graced but by the monotonous murmur of a psalm, in 
which the accent of the human soul can scarce be recog- 
nised. One evening, when Oswald and Corinne were 
alone together, and he more depressed than usual by her 
altered manner, he heard, beneath the windows, these 
dreary sounds, announcing a funeral : he listened awhile 
in silence, and then said, '' Perhaps to-morrow I may be 
iseized by this same malady, against which there is no 
defence ; you will then wish that you had said a few kind 
words to me on the day that may be my last. Corinne, 
death threatens us both closely. Are there not miseries 
enough in life, that we should thus mutually augment 
each other's ? " Struck by the idea of his danger, she now 
entreated him to leave Rome instantly; he stubbornly 
refused : she then proposed their going to Venice ; to this 
he cheerfully assented : it was for her alone that he had 
trembled. Their departure was fixed for the second day 
from this ; but on that morning Oswald, who had not 
seen Corinne the night before, received a note, informing 
him that indispensable business obliged her to visit Flo- 
rence ; but that she should rejoin him at Venice in a fort- 
night ; she begged him to take Ancona in his way, and 
gave him a seemingly important commission to execute 
for her there. Her style was more calm and considerate 
than he had found it since they left Naples. He believed 
her implicitly, and prepared for his journey ; but, wishing 
once more to behold the dwelling of Corinne ere he left 
Rome, he went thither, found it shut up, and rapped at the 
door. An old woman appeared, told him that all the other 
servants had gone with her mistress, and would not answer 
another word to his numerous questions. He hastened to 
Prince Castel Forte, who was as surprised as himself at 
Corinne's abrupt retirement. Nevil, all anxiety, imagined 
that her agent at Tivoli must have received some in- 
structions as to her affairs. He mounted his horse with 



a promptitude unusual to him, and, in extreme agitation, 
rode to her country house : its doors were open ; he en- 
tered, passed some of the rooms without meeting any one, 
till he reached that of Corinne : though darkness reigned 
there, he saw her on her bed, with Theresina alone beside 
her ; he uttered a cry of recognition ; it recalled her to 
consciousness: she raised herself, saying eagerly, — " Do 
not come near me ! I forbid you ! I die if you do ! " i 

Oswald felt as if his beloved were accusing him of some 
crime which she had all at once suspected : believing him- 
self hated — scorned — he fell on his knees, with a despair- 
ing submission which suggested to Corinne the idea of 
profiting by this mistake, and she commanded him to leave 
her for ever, as if he had in truth been guilty. Speechless 
with wonder, he would have obeyed, when Theresina 
sobbed forth, — " Oh, my Lord ! will you then desert my 
dear lady ? She has sent every one away, and would fain 
banish me too ; for she has caught the infectious fever \" 

These words instantly explained the affecting stratagem 
of Corinne ; and Oswald clasped her to his heart, with a 
transport of tenderness, such as he had never before ex- 
perienced. In vain she repelled him ; in vain she re- 
proached Theresina. Oswald bade the good creature with- 
draw, and lavished his tearful kisses on the face of his 
adored. " Now, now," he cried, " thou shalt not die 
without me : if the fatal poison be in thy veins, at least, 
thank Heaven, I breathe it in thine arms." — " Dear, cruel 
Oswald!" she sighed, ^'^ to what tortures you condemn 
me ! Oh God ! since he will not live without me, let not 
my better angel perish ! no, save him, save him I " Here 
her strength was lost, and, for eight days, she remained in 
the greatest danger. In the midst of her delirium, she 
would cry, — " Keep Oswald from me! let him not come 
here ! never tell him where I am ! " When her reason 
returned, she gazed on him, murmuring, — " Oswald! in 
death as in life you are with me ; we shall be re-united." 
When she perceived how pale he was, a deadly terror 
seized her, and she called to his aid the physicians who 
had given her a strong proof of devotion in never having 
abandoned her. Oswald constantly held her burning hand* 



in his, and firiished the cup of which she had drank ; in 
fact, with such avidity did he share her perils, that she 
herself ceased at last to combat this passionate self-sacri- 
fice. Leaning her head upon his arm, she resigned herself 
to his will. Two beings who so love that they feel the 
impossibility of living without each other, may well attain 
the noble and tender intimacy which puts all things in com- 
mon, even death itself. (2) Happily Lord Nevil did not 
take the disease through which he so carefully nursed 
Corinne. She recovered ; but another malady penetrated 
yet deeper into her breast. The generosity of her lover, 
alas ! redoubled the attachment she had borne him. 


It was agreed that Nevil and Corinne should visit Venice. 
They had relapsed into silence on their future prospects, 
but spoke of their aifection more confidingly than ever : 
both avoided all topics that could disturb their present 
mutual peace. A day passed with him was to her such 
enjoyment ! he seemed so to revel in her conversation ; he 
followed her every impulse ; studied her slightest wish, 
with so sustained an interest, that it appeared impossible he 
could bestow so much felicity without himself being happy. 
Corinne drew assurances of safety from the bliss she tasted. 
After some months of such habits we believe them insepar- 
able from our existence. Her agitation was calmed again, 
and her natural heedlessness of the future returned. Yet, 
on the eve of quitting Rome, she became extremely melan- 
choly : this time she both hoped and feared that it was for 
ever. The night before her departure, unable to sleep, 
she heard a troop of Romans singing in the moonlight. 
She could not resist her desire to follow them, and once 
more wander through that beloved scene. She dressed ; and 
bidding her servants keep the carriage within sight of her, 
put on a veil, to avoid recognition, and, at some distance, 
pursued the musicians. They paused on the bridge of 

corinne; or italy. 267 

St. Angelo, in front of Adrian's tomb: in such a spot 
music seems to express the vanities and splendours of the 
world. One might fancy one beheld in the air the im- 
perial shade wondering to find no other trace left of his 
power on earth except a tomb. The band continued their 
walk, singing as they went, to the silent night, when the 
happy ought to sleep : their pure and gentle melodies 
seemed designed to solace wakeful suffering. Drawn on- 
ward by this resistless spell, Corinne, insensible to fatigue_, 
seemed winging her way along. They also sang before 
Antoninus' pillar, and then at Trajan's column : they sa- 
luted the obelisk of St. John Lateran. The ideal language 
of music worthily mates the ideal expression of works like 
these : enthusiasm reigns alone, while vulgar interests 
slumber. At last the singers departed, and left Corinne 
near the Coliseum : she wished to enter its enclosure and 
bid adieu to ancient Rome. 

Those who have seen this place but by day cannot 
judge of the impression it may make. The sun of Italy 
should shine on festivals ; but the moon is the light for 
ruins. Sometimes, through the openings of the amphi- 
theatre, which seems towering to the clouds, a portion of 
heaven's vault appears like a dark blue curtain. The 
plants that cling to the broken walls all wear the hues of 
night. The soul at once shudders and melts on finding 
itself alone with nature. One side of this edifice is much 
more fallen than the other : the two contemporaries make 
an unequal struggle against time. He fells the weakest ; 
the other still resists, but soon must yield. 

" Ye solemn scenes!" cried Corinne, " where, at this 
hour, no being breathes beside me, — where but the 
echoes of my own voice answer me, — how are the storms 
of passion calmed by nature, who thus peacefully permits so 
many generations to glide by ! Has not the universe some 
better end than man.^ or are its marvels scattered here, 
merely to be reflected in his mind ? Oswald ! why do I 
love with such idolatry ? why live but for the feelings of a 
day, compared to the infinite hopes that unite us with 
divinity ? My God ! if it be true, as I believe, that we 
admire thee the more the more capable we are of reflection. 

268 corinne; or italy. 

make my own mind my refuge against my heart ! The 
noble being whose gentle looks I can never forget is but a 
perishable mortal like myself. Among the stars there is 
eternal love, alone sufficing to a boundless heart." Corinne 
remained long lost in these ideas, and, at last, turned slowly 
towards her own abode; but, ere she re-entered it, she 
wished to await the dawn at St. Peter's, and from its 
dome take her last leave of all beneath. Her imagination 
represented this edifice as it must be, when, in its turn, 
a wreck, — the theme of wonder for yet unborn ages. 
The columns, now erect, half bedded in earth ; the porch 
dilapidated, with the Egyptian obelisk exulting over the 
decay of novelties, wrought for an earthly immortality. 
From the summit of St. Peter's Corinne beheld day rise 
over Rome, which, in its uncultivated Campagna, looks like 
the Oasis of a Libyan desert. Devastation is around it ; 
but the multitude of spires and cupolas, over which St. 
Peter's rises, give a strange beauty to its aspect. This 
city may boast one peculiar charm : we love it as an ani- 
mated being : its very ruins are as friends, from whom we 
cannot part without farewell. 

Corinne addressed the Pantheon, St. Angelo's, and all 
the sites that once renewed the pleasures of her fancy. 
"' Adieu ! " she said, '' land of remembrances ! scenes 
where life depends not on events, nor on society ; where 
enthusiasm refreshes itself through the eyes, and links the 
soul to each external object. I leave you, to follow Oswald, 
not knowing to what fate he may consign me. I prefer 
him to the independence which here afforded me such 
happy days. I may return no more ; — but for a broken 
heart and blighted mind, ye arts and monuments so oft 
invoked, while I was exiled beneath his stormy sky, ye 
could do nothing to console ! " 

She wept ; yet thought not, for an instant, of letting 
Oswald depart without her. Resolutions springing from the 
heart we often justly blame, yet hesitate not to adopt. 
When passion masters a superior mind, it separates our 
judgment from our conduct, and need not cloud the one 
in order to over-rule the other. 
. Corinne's black curls and veil floating on the breeze 

corinne; or italy. 269 

gave her so picturesque an air, that, as she left the church, 
the common people recognised and followed her to her 
carriage with the warmest testimonials of respect. She 
sighed again, at parting from a race so ardent and so 
graceful in their expressions of esteem. Nor was this all. 
She had to endure the regrets of her friends. They 
devised fetes in order to delay her departure : their poetical 
tributes strove in a thousand ways to convince her that she 
ought to stay ; and finally they accompanied her on horse- 
back for twenty miles. She was extremely affected. Os- 
wald cast down his eyes in confusion, reproaching himself 
for tearing her from so much delight, though he knew that 
an offer of remaining there would be more barbarous still. 
He appeared selfish in removing Corinne from Rome ; yet 
he was not so ; for the fear of afflicting her, by setting forth 
alone, had more weight with him than even the hope of 
retaining her presence. He knew not what he was about 
to do, — saw nothing beyond Venice. He had written to 
enquire how soon his regiment would be actively employed 
in the war, and awaited a reply. Sometimes he thought 
of taking Corinne with him to England ; yet instantly re- 
membered that he should for ever ruin her reputation by 
so doing, unless she were his wife; then he wished to 
soften the pangs of separation by a private marriage ; but 
a moment afterwards gave up that plan also. " We can 
keep no secrets from the dead," he cried ; " and what 
should I gain by making a mystery of an union prohibited 
by nothing but my worship of a tomb.?" His mind, so 
weak in all that concerned his affections, was sadly agitated 
by contending sentiments, Corinne resigned herself to 
him, like a victim, exulting, amid her sorrows, in the 
sacrifices she made; while Oswald, responsible for the 
welfare of another, bound himself to her daily by new 
ties, without the power of yielding to them ; and, unhappy 
in his love as in his conscience, felt the presence of both 
but in their combats with each other. 

When the friends of Corinne took leave, they com- 
mended her earnestly to his care; congratulated him on 
the love of so eminent a woman ; their every word sound- 
ing like mockery and upbraiding. She felt this; hastily 



concluded the trying scene; and when, after turning from, 
time to time to salute her, they were at last lost to her 
sight, she only said to her lover, " Oswald ! I have now 
no one but you in the world ! " How did he long to swear 
he would be hers ! But frequent disappointments teach us 
to mistrust our own inclinations, and shrink even from the 
vows our hearts may prompt. Corinne read his thoughts, 
and delicately strove to fix his attention on the country 
through which they travelled. 


It was the beginning of September, arid the weather su- 
perb till they neared the Apennines, where they felt the 
approach of winter. A soft air is seldom united with the 
pleasure of looking on picturesque mountains. One even- 
ing a terrible hurricane arose : the thickest darkness closed 
around them ; and the horses, so wild there that they are 
even harnessed by stratagem, set off with inconceivable 
rapidity. Our lovers felt much excited by being thus 
hurried on together. "Ah!" cried Oswald, ^^ if they 
could bear us from all I know on earth, — if they coulc 
climb these hills, and dash into anothe^r life, where w< 
should regain my father, who would receive and bless usj 
would you not go with me, beloved ? " He pressed hel 
vehemently to his bosom. Corinne, enamoured as himself/] 
replied, " Dispose of me as you will ; chain me like 
slave to your fate : had not the slaves of other days talent 
that soothed their masters? Such would I be to theeJ 
But, Oswald, yet respect her who thus trusts thee : con-^ 
demned by all the world, she must not blush to meet thin* 
eye." — " No," he exclaimed, " I will lose all, or all ob- 
tain. I ought, I must either live thy husband, or die in 
stifling the transports of my passion : but I will hope to 
be thine before the world, and glory in thy tenderness. 
Yet tell me, ^I conjure thee, have I not sunk in thine 
esteem by all these struggles } Canst thou believe thyself 

corinnk; or italy. 271 

less dear than ever ? " His accents were so sincere that, 
for awhile, they gave her back her confidence,, and the 
purest, sweetest rapture animated them both. 

Meanwhile the horses stopped. Oswald alighted first. 
The cold sharp wind almost made him fancy himself landing 
in England : this freezing air was not like that of Italy, 
which bids young breasts forget all things save love. Oswald 
sunk back into his gloom. Corinne, who knew the un- 
settled nature of his fancy, but too well guessed the cause. 
On the morrow they arrived at our Lady of Loretto, 
which stands upon an eminence, from whence is seen the 
Adriatic. While Oswald gave some orders for their 
journey, Corinne entered th^ church, where the image of 
the Virgin is enclosed in the choir of a small chapel, 
adorned with bas-reliefs. The marble pavement that sur- 
rounds the sanctuary is worn by pilgrim knees. Corinne, 
moved by these marks of prayer, knelt on the stones so 
often pressed by the unfortunate, and addressed the type 
of heavenly truth and sensibility. Oswald here found her 
bathed in tears. He did not understand how a woman of 
her mind could bow to the practices of the ignorant. She 
guessed this by his looks, and said, " Dear Oswald, are 
there not many moments when we dare not raise our hopes 
to the Supreme Being, or breathe to him the sorrows of 
our hearts } Is it not pleasing, then, to behold a woman as 
intercessor for our human weakness } She suffered on 
this earth, for she lived on it ; to her I blush not to pray 
for you, when a petition to God himself would overawe 
me." — " /cannot always directly supplicate my Maker," 
repUed Oswald. " I, too, have my intercessor: the guardian 
angel of children is their father : and since mine has been 
in heaven, I have oft received an unexpected solace, aid, 
and composure, which I can but attribute to the mira- 
culous protection whence I still hope to escape from my 
perplexities." — " I comprehend you," said Corinne, *' and 
believe there is no one who has not some mysterious idea of 
his own destiny, — one event which he has always dreaded, 
and which, though improbable, is sure to happen. The 
punishment of some fault, though it be impossible to trace 
the connection our misfortunes have with it, often strikes 



the imagination. From my chiklhood I trembled at the 
idea of living in England. Well ; my inability to do so 
may be my worst regret ; and on that point I feel there is 
something unconquerable in my fate^ against which I 
struggle in vain. Every one conceives his life interiorly a 
contrast to what it seems : we have a confused sense of 
some supernatural power, disguised in the form of external 
circumstance, while itself alone is the source of all our 
actions. Dear friend, minds capable of reasoning for ever 
plunge into their own abyss, but always fail to fathom it." 

Oswald, as he heard her speak thus, wondered to find 
that, while she was capable of such glowing sentiments, her 
judgment still could hover over them, like their presiding 
genius. '' No," he frequently said to himself, " no other 
society on earth can satisfy the man who has possessed 
such a companion as this." 

They entered Ancona at night, as he wished not to be 
recognised : in spite of his precautions, however, he was 
soj and the next morning all the inhabitants crowded 
about the house in which he stayed, awaking Corinne by 
shouts of " Long live Lord Nevil, our benefactor ! " She 
started, rose hastily, and mingled with the crowd, to hear 
their praises of the man she loved. Oswald, informed that 
the people were impatiently caUing for him, was at last 
obliged to appear. He believed Corinne still slept : what 
was his astonishment at finding her already known and 
cherished by the grateful multitude, who' entreated her to 
be their interpretress ! Corinne's imagination — by turns 
her charm and her defect — delighted in extraordinary ad- 
ventures. She thanked Lord Nevil, in the name of the 
people, with a grace so noble that the natives were in 
ecstaaes. Speaking for them, she said, " You preserved 
us, — we owe you our lives !" But when she offered him 
the oak and laurel crown they had entwined, an indefinite 
timidity beset her: the enthusiastic populace prostrated 
themselves before him, and Corinne involuntarily bent her 
knee in tendering him the garland. Oswald was so over- 
whelmed at the sight, that he could no longer support this 
scene, nor the public homage of his beloved ; but drew her 
away with him. She wept, and thanked the good inhabit- 


ants of Ancona, who followed them with blessings, as 
Oswald, hiding himself in his carriage^ murmured, " Co- 
rinne at my feet ! Corinne, in whose path I ought to kneel ! 
Have I deserved this ? Do you suspect me of such unworthy 
pride?" — "No, no," she said; "^ but I was suddenly 
seized with the respect a woman always feels for him she 
loves. To us, indeed, is external deference most directed ; 
but in truth, in nature, it is the woman who reveres the 
being capable of defending her." 

^' Yes, I will be thy defender, to the last hour of my 
life ! " he answered. " Heaven be my witness, such a 
genius shall not in vain seek refuge in the harbour of my 
love ! " — " Alas ! " she sighed, " that love is all I need ; 
and what promise can secure it to me } No matter. I 
feel that you love me now better than ever : let us not 
trouble this return of affection." — " Return !" interrupted 
Oswald. — " I cannot retract the expression ; but let us not 
seek to explain it;" and she made a gentle sign for Nevil 
to be silent. 


For two days they proceeded on the shore of the Adriatic; 
but this sea, on the Romagnan side, has not the effect of 
the ocean, nor even of the Mediterranean. The high road 
winds close to its waves, and grass grows on its banks : 
it is hot thus that we would represent the mighty realm 
of tempests. At Rimini and Cesena, you quit the classic 
scenes of history: their latest remembrancer is the Ru- 
bicon, which Cffisar passed, to become the lord of Rome. 
Not far from hence is the repubHc of St. Marino, the last 
weak vestige of liberty, besides the spot on which was re- 
solved the destruction of the world's chief republic. By 
degrees, you now advance towards a country very opposite 
in aspect to the Papal state. Bologna, Lombardy, the en- 
virons of Ferrara and Rovigo, are remarkable for beauty 
and cultivation — how unhke the poetic barrenness and 

274} corinne; or italy. 

decay that announce an approach to Rome, and tell of the 
terrible events that have occurred there ! 

You then quit what Sabran calls ' black pines, the sum- 
mer's mourning, but the winter's bravery/ and the conical 
cypresses that remind one of obelisks, mountains, and the 
sea. Nature, like the traveller, now parts from the south- 
ern rays. At first, the oranges are found no longer in the 
open air, — they are succeeded by olives, whose pale and 
tender foliage might suit the bowers of the Elysian fields. 
Farther on, even the olive disappears. 

On entering Bologna's smiling plain, the vines garland 
the elms together, and the whole land is decked as for a 
festival. Corinne was sensible of the contrast between her 
present state of mind and the resplendent scene she now 
beheld. — '^ Ah, Oswald ! " she sighed, '' ought nature to 
spread such images of happiness before two friends per- 
haps about to lose each other ? " — " No, Corinne ! never ! 
each day I feel less able to resign thee: that untiring gen- 
tleness unites the charm of habit with the love I bear thee. 
One lives as contentedly with you as if you were not the 
finest genius in the world, or, rather, because you are so ; 
for real superiority confers a perfect goodness, that makes 
one's peace with one's self and all the world. What angry 
thoughts can live in such a presence } " They arrived at 
Ferrara, one of the saddest towns in Italy, vast and de- 
serted. The few inhabitants found there,, at distant intervals, 
loiter on slowly, as if secure of time for all they have to 
do. It is hard to conceive this the scene of that gay 
court sung both by Tasso and Ariosto ; yet still are shown 
their manuscripts, with that also of the Pastor Fido. Ariosto 
knew how to live at ease here, amid courtiers ; but the 
house is yet to be seen wherein they dared confine Tasso 
as a maniac. It is sad to read the various letters which 
he wrote asking the death it was so long ere he obtained. 
Tasso was so peculiarly organised, that his talent became 
its owner's formidable foe. His genius dissected his own 
heart. He could not so have read the secrets of the soul 
if he had felt less sorrow. The man who has not suffered,^ 
says a prophet, what does he know ? In some respects, 
Corinne resembled him. She was more cheerful and more 



versatile, but her imagination required extreme govern- 
ment: far from assuaging any grief, it lent each pang 
fresh might. Nevil deceived himself if he believed her 
brilliant faculties could give her means of happiness apart 
from her affections. When genius is united with true 
feeling, our talents multiply our woes. We analyse, we 
make discoveries, and, the heart's urn of tears being ex- 
haustless, the more we think the more we feel it flow. 


They embarked for Venice on the Brenta. At each side 
they beheld its palaces, grand but dilapidated, like all 
Italian magnificence. They are too wildly ornamented 
to remind us of the antique : Venetian architecture betrays 
a commerce with the East: there is a blendure of the 
Gothic and Moresco that takes the eye, though it offends 
the taste. The poplar, regular almost as architecture 
itself, borders the canals. The sky's bright blue sets off 
the splendid verdure of the country, which owes its green 
to the abundant waters. Nature seems to wear these two 
colours in mere coquetry ; and the vague beauty of the 
south is found no more. Venice astonishes more than it 
pleases at first sight : it looks a city under water ; and one 
can scarce admire the ambition which disputed this space 
"with the sea. The amphitheatre of Naples is built as if to 
welcome it; but, on the flats of Venice, steeples appear, 
like masts, immovable in the midst of waves. In entering 
the city, one takes leave of vegetation ; one sees not even 
a fly there : all animals are banished ; man alone remains to 
battle with the waves. In a city whose streets are all 
canals the silence is profound — ^the [dash of oars its only 
interruption. You cannot fancy yourself in the country, 
for you see no trees; nor in a town, for you hear no 
bustle ; or even on board ship, for you make no way; but 
in a place which storms would convert into a prison, — for 
T 2 

276 corinne; or italy. 

there are times when you cannot leave the city, nor even 
your own house. 

Many men in Venice never went from one quarter to 
another_, — never beheld St. Mark's, — a horse or a tree were 
actual miracles to them. The black gondolas glide along 
like biers or cradles, the last and the first beds of human 
kind. At night, their dark colour renders them invisible, 
and they are only traced by the reflection of the lights 
they carry — one might call them phantoms, guided by 
faint stars. In this abode all is mysterious — the govern- 
ment, the habits, love itself. Doubtless the heart and 
reason find much food when they can penetrate this 
secrecy, but strangers always feel the first impression sin- 
gularly sad. 

Corinne, who was a believer in presentiments, and now 
made presages of every thing, said to Nevil, — " Is not the 
melancholy that I feel on entering this place a proof that 
some great misfortune will befall me here ? " As she said 
this, she heard three reports of cannon, from one of the isles 
of the Lagune — she started, and enquired the cause of a 
gondolier. — " It is a woman taking the veil," he said, 
^•' at one of those convents in the midst of the sea. The 
custom here is, that the moment such vow is uttered, the 
female throws the flowers she wore during the ceremony 
behind her, as a sign of her resigning the world, and the 
firing you have just heard announces this event." Corinne 
shuddered. Oswald felt her hand grow cold in his, and 
saw a death-like pallor overspread her face. — ? " My Ufe !" 
lie cried, '' why give this importance to so simple a 
chance?" — ^'^ It is not simple," she replied. " I, too, 
have thrown the flowers of youth behind me." — " How! 
when I love thee more than ever } when my whole soul is 
thine } " — " The thunders of war," she continued, " else- 
where devoted to victory or death, here celebrate the 
obscure sacrifice of a maiden — an innocent employment 
for the arms that shake the world with terror : — a solemn 
message from a resigned woman to those of her sisters 
who still contend with fate." 

corinne: or italy. 277 


The power of Venetian government, during its latter years, 
has almost entirely consisted in the empire of habit and 
association of ideas. It once was formidably daring, it 
has become lenient and timorous : hate of its past potency 
is easily revived, and easily subdued, by the thought that 
its might is over. The aristocracy woo the favour of the 
people, and yet by a kind of despotism, since they rather 
amuse than enlighten them ; an agreeable state enough, 
while the common herd are afforded no pleasures that can 
brutify their minds, while the government watches over its 
subjects like a sultan over his harem, forbidding them to 
meddle with politics, or presume to form any judgment of 
existing authorities, but allowing them sufficient diversion, 
and not a little glory. The spoils of Constantinople enrich 
the churches; the standards of Cyprus and Candia float over 
the Piazza ; the Corinthian horses delight the eye ; and the 
winged lion of St. Mark's appears the type of fame. The 
situation of the city rendering agriculture and the chase 
impossible, nothing is left for the Venetians but dissipation. 
Their dialect is soft and light as a zephyr. One can hardly 
conceive how the people who resisted the league of Cambray 
should speak so flexible a tongue : it is charming while ex- 
pressive of graceful pleasantry, but suits not graver themes ; 
verses on death, for instance, breathed in these delicate and 
almost infantine accents, sound more like the descriptions 
of poetic fable. The Venetians are the most intelligent 
men in Italy ; they think more deeply, though with less 
ardent fancies than their southern countrymen ; yet, for 
the most part, the women, though very agreeable, have 
acquired a sentimentality of language, which, without 
restraining their morals, merely lends their gallantry an 
air of affectation. There is more vanity, as there is more 
society, here, than in the rest of Italy. Where applause is 
quick and frequent, conceit calculates all debts instan- 
taneously ; knows what success is owed, and claims its due^ 
T 3 


without giving a minute's credit. Its bills must be paid 
at sight. Still much originality may be found in Venice. 
Ladies of the highest rank receive visits in the cafes^ and 
this strange confusion prevents their salons becoming the 
arenas of serious self-love. There yet remain here some 
ancient usages that evince a respect for their forefathers, 
and a certain youth of heart which tires not of the past, 
nor shrinks from melting recollections. The sight of the 
city itself is always sufficient to awaken a host of memories. 
The Piazza is crowded by blue tents, beneath which rest 
Turks, Greeks, and Armenians, who sometimes also loll 
carelessly in open boats, with stands of flowers at their 
feet. St. Mark's, too, looks rather like a mosque than a 
Christian temple ; and its vicinity gives a true idea of 
the oriental indolence with which life is spent here, in 
drinking sherbet, and smoking perfumed pipes. 

Men and women of quality never leave their houses, 
except in black mantles ; while the gondolas are often 
winged along by rowers clad in white, with rose-colour 
sashes, as if holiday array were abandoned to the vulgar, 
while the nobility kept up a vow of perpetual mourning. 
In most European towns, authors are obliged carefully to 
avoid depicting the daily routine ; for our customs, even in 
luxury, are rarely poetic ; but in Venice nothing appears 
coarse ; the canals, the boats, make pictures of the com- 
monest events in life. 

On the quay of the galleys you constantly encounter 
puppet shows, mountebanks, and story-tellers ; the last are 
worthy of remark. It is usually some episode from Tasso or 
Ariosto which they relate in prose, to the great admiration 
of their hearers, who sit round the speaker half clad, and 
motionless with curiosity ; from time to time they purchase 
glasses of water, as wine is bought elsewhere, and this 
refreshment is all they take for hours, so strongly are their 
minds interested. The narrator uses the most animating 
gestures; his voice is raised; he irritates himself; he grows 
pathetic ; and yet one sees, all the while, that at heart he is 
perfectly unmoved. One might say to him, as did Sappho 
to the Circean nymph, who, in perfect sobriety, was as- 
suming fury, — '' Bacchante — who art not drunk — what 

corinne; or italy. 279 

wouldst thou with me?" Yet the lively pantomime of 
the south does not appear quite artificial : it is a singular 
habit handed down from the Romans^ and springing from 
quickness of disposition. A people so enslaved by pleasure 
may soon be alarmed by the dream of power in which the 
Venetian government is veiled. Never are soldiers seen 
there. If even a drummer appears in their comedies they 
are all astonishment ; yet a state inquisitor needs but show 
himself to restore order among thirty thousand people, 
assembled for a public fete. It were well if this influence 
was derived from a respect for the laws ; but it is fortified 
by terror of the secret means which may still be used to 
preserve the peace. The prisons are in the very palace of 
the Doge, above and below his apartments. The Lion's 
Mouth, into which all denunciations are thrown, is also 
here ; the hall of trial is hung with black, and makes 
judgment appear anticipating condemnation. The Bridge 
of Sighs leads from the palace to the state prison. In pass- 
ing the canal, how oft were heard the cries of " Justice ! 
Mercy ! " in voices that could be no longer recognised. 
When a state criminal was sentenced, a bark removed him 
in the night, by a little gate that opens on the water : he 
was taken some distance from the city, to a part of the 
Lagune where fishing is prohibited, and there drowned: 
thus secrecy is perpetuated, even after death, not leaving 
the unhappy wretch a hope that his remains may inform 
those who loved him that he suifered, and is no more. 
When Lord Nevil and Corinne visited Venice, these exe- 
cutions had not taken place for nearly a century ; but suffi- 
cient mystery still existed ; and, though Oswald was the last 
man to interfere with the politics of foreign lands, he felt 
oppressed by this arbitrary power, from which there was no 
appeal, that seemed to hang over every head in Venice. 


*' You must not," said Corinne, " give way merely to the 

gloomy impressions which these silent proceedings have 

T 4 



created ; you ought also to observe the great qualities of 
this senate^ which makes Venice a republic for nobles, 
and formerly inspired that aristocratic energy, the result 
of freedom, even though concentrated in the few. You 
will find them severe on one another, at least establishing, 
in their own breasts, the rights and virtues that should 
belong to all. You will see them as paternal towards their 
subjects as they can be, while merely considering that 
class of men with reference to physical prosperity. You 
will detect a great pride in the country which is their 
property, and an art of endearing it even to the people, 
whom they allow so few actual possessions there." 

Corinne and Oswald visited the hall where the great 
council was then assembled. It is hung with portraits 
of the Doges ; on the space which would have been occu- 
pied by that of Faliero, who was beheaded as a traitor, 
is painted a black curtain, whereon is written the date 
and manner of his death. The regal magnificence of the 
other pictures adds to the effect of this ghastly pall. There 
is also a representation of the Last Judgment, another of 
the powerful emperor, Frederic Barbarossa, humbling him- 
self to the Venetian senate. It was a fine idea thus to 
unite all that can exalt pride upon earth, and bend it 
before Heaven. 

They proceeded to the arsenal : before its gates are two 
Grecian lions, brought from Athens, to become the guar- 
dians of Venetian power. Motionless guardians, that defend 
but what they respect. This repository is full of marine 
trophies. The famous ceremony of the doge's marriage 
with the Adriatic, in fact, all the institutions, here attest 
their gratitude to the sea : in this respect they resemble 
the English, and Nevil strongly felt the similarity. Co- 
rinne now led him to the tower called the Steeple of St. 
Mark's, though some paces from the church. Thence is 
seen the whole city of the waves, and the huge embank- 
ment which defends it from inundation. The coasts of 
Istria and Dalmatia are in the distance. " Behind the 
clouds, on this side, lies Greece," said Corinne : ** is not 
that thought enough to stir the heart? There still are 
men of lively, ardent characters, victims to fate ; yet 


destined, perhaps, some day, to resuscitate the ashes of 
their sires. It is always something for a land to have 
heen great ; its natives blush at least beneath degradation ; 
while, in a country never consecrated to fame, the in- 
habitants do not even suspect that there can be a nobler 
doom than the obscure serviHty bequeathed to them by 
their fathers. Dalmatia, which was of yore occupied by 
so warlike a race, still preserves something of the savage. 
Its natives are so little aware of the changes wrought by 
fifteen centuries, that they still deem the Romans ' all- 
powerful;' yet they betray more modern knowledge, by 
caUing the EngHsh ^ the heroes of the sea,' because you 
have so often landed in their ports ; but they know no- 
thing about the rest of the world. I love all realms where, 
in the manners, customs, language, something original is 
left. Civilised life is so monotonous ; you know its secrets 
in so short a time ; I have already Uved long enough for 
that." — ^^ Living with you," said Nevil, *'^ can we ever 
behold the end of new thoughts and sensations?" — "God 
grant that such may prove exhaustless ! " she replied, con- 
tinuing, — '' Let us give one moment more to Dalmatia: 
when we descend from this height we shall still see the 
uncertain lines which mark that land, as indistinctly as 
a tender recollection in the memory of man. There are 
improvisatores among the Dalmatians as among the sa- 
vages ; they were found, too, with the Grecians, and almost 
always exist where there is much imagination, and little 
vanity. Natural talent turns rather to epigram, in coun- 
tries where a fear of ridicule makes every man anxious to 
be the first who secures that weapon ; but people thrown 
much with Nature feel a reverence for her that greatly 
nurtures fancy. ' Caverns are sacred,' say the Dalmatians, 
doubtless thus expressing an indefinite terror of the old 
earth's secrets. Their poetry. Southerns though they be, 
resembles Ossian's ; but there are only two ways of feeling 
the charms of nature. Men either animate and deify 
them, as did the ancients, beneath a thousand brilliant 
shapes, or, like the Scottish bards, yield to the melancholy 
fear inspired by the unknown. Since I met you, Oswald, 
this last manner has best pleased me. Formerly I had 

282 corinne; or italy. 

vivacious hope enough to prefer a fearless enjoyment of 
smiling imagery." — " It is I, then," said Nevil, " who 
have withered the fair ideal, to which I owed the richest 
pleasures of my life," — ^' No, you are not in fault, but 
my own passion. Talent requires internal freedom, such 
as true love destroys." — ^' Ah ! if you mean that your 
genius may lose its voice, and your heart speak but for 

me " He could not proceed, the words promised 

more to his mind than he dared utter. Corinne guessed 
this, and would not answer, lest she should dissipate their 
present hopes. She felt herself beloved, and, used to live 
where men lose all for love, she was easily persuaded 
that Nevil could not leave her. At once ardent and in- 
dolent, she deemed a danger past which was no longer 
mentioned. She lived as many others do, who have been 
long menaced by the same misfortune, and think it will 
never happen, merely because it has not done so yet. 

The air of Venice, and the life led there, is singularly 
calculated for lulling the mind into security : the very boats, 
peacefully rocking to and fro, induce a languid reverie ; 
now and then a gondolier on the Rialto sings a stanza from 
Tassoj one of his fellows answers him, by the next 
verse, from the extremity of the canal. The very antique 
music they employ is like church psalmody, and mono- 
tonous enough when near : but, on the evening breeze, it 
floats over the waters like the last beams of the sun ; and, 
aided by the sentiment it expresses, in such a scene, it 
cannot be heard without a gentle pensiveness. Oswald 
and Corinne remained on the canals, side by side, for 
hours ; often without a word ; holding each other's hands, 
and yielding to the formless dreams inspired by love and 






As soon as Corinne's arrival was known in Venice, it 
excited the greatest curiosity. When she went to a cafe 
in the piazza of St. Mark, its galleries were crowded, for 
a moment's glimpse at her ; and the hest society sought 
her with eager haste. She had once loved to produce this 
effect wherever she appeared, and naturally confessed that 
admiration had many charms for her. Genius inspires 
this thirst for fame: there is no blessing undesired by 
those to whom Heaven gave the means of winning it. Yet 
in her present situation she dreaded every thing in oppo- 
sition with the domestic habits so dear to Nevil. Corinne 
was blind to her own welfare, in attaching herself to a 
man likely rather to repress than to excite her talents ; but 
it is easy to conceive why a woman, occupied by literature 
and the arts, should love the tastes that differed from her 
own. One is so often weary of one's self, that a resem- 
blance of that self would never tempt affection, which 
requires a harmony of sentiment, but a contrast of cha- 
racter; many sympathies, but not unvaried congeniality. 
Nevil was supremely blessed with this double charm. His 
gentle ease and gracious manner could never sate, because 
his Hability to clouds and storms kept up a constant in- 
terest. Although the depth and extent of his acquire- 
ments fitted him for any life, his poHtical opinions and 
military bias inclined him rather to a career of arms than 
one of letters, — the thought that action might be more 



poetical than even verse itself. He was superior to the 
success of his own mind, and spoke of it with much in- 
difference. Corinne strove to please him by imitating 
this carelessness of literary glory ; in order to grow more 
like the retiring females for whom English womanhood 
offers the best model. Yet the homage she received at 
Venice gave Oswald none but agreeable sensations. There 
was so much cordial good breeding in the reception she 
met, the Venetians expressed the pleasure her conversation 
afforded them with such vivacity, that Oswald felt proud 
of being dear to one so universally admired. He was no 
longer jealous of her celebrity, certain that she prized him 
far above it ; and his own love increased by every tribute 
she elicited. He forgot England, and revelled in the 
Italian heedlessness of days to come. Corinne perceived 
this change ; and her imprudent heart welcomed it, as if 
to last for ever. 

Italian is the only tongue whose dialects are almost 
languages of themselves. In that of each state books 
might be written distinct from the standard Italian ; 
though only the Neapolitan, Sicilian, and Venetian dialects 
have yet the honour of being acknowledged ; and that of 
Venice as the most original, most graceful of all. Corinne 
pronounced it charmingly ; and the manner in which she 
sung some lively barcaroles proved that she could act 
comedy as well as tragedy. She was pressed to take a 
part in an opera which some of her new friends intended 
playing the next week. Since she had loved Oswald she 
concealed this talent from him, not feeling sufficient peace 
of mind for its exercise, or, at other times, fearing that 
any outbreak of high spirits might be followed by mis- 
fortune; but now, with unwonted confidence, she con- 
sented, as he, too, joined in the request ; and it was agreed 
that she should perform in a piece, like most of Gozzi's, 
composed of the most diverting fairy extravagances. (3) 
Truffaldin and Pantaloon, in these burlesques, often jostle 
the greatest monarchs of the earth. The marvellous fur- 
nishes them with jests, which, from their very order, 
cannot approach to low vulgarity. The Child of the Air, 
or Semiramis in her Youth, is a coquette, endowed by the 


celestials and infernals to subjugate the world ; bred in 
a desert, like a savage, cunning as a sorceress, and im- 
perious as a queen, she unites natural wildness with pre- 
meditated grace, and a warrior's courage with the frivolity 
of a woman. The character demands a fund of fanciful 
drollery, which but the inspiration of the moment can 
bring to light. 


Fate sometimes has its own strange cruel sport, repulsing 
our presuming familiarity. Oft, when we yield to hope, 
calculate on success, and trifle with our destiny, the sable 
thread is blending with its tissue, and the weird sisters 
dash down the airy fabrics we have reared. 

It was now November; yet Corinne arose enchanted 
with her prospects. For the first act she chose a very 
picturesque costume: her hair, though dishevelled, was 
arranged with an evident design of pleasing; her light 
fantastic garb gave her noble form a most mischievously 
attractive air. She reached the palace where she was to 
play. Every one but Oswald had arrived. She deferred 
the performance as long as possible, and began to be uneasy 
at his absence ; when she came on the stage, however, she 
perceived him, though he sat in a remote part of the hall, 
and the pain of having waited redoubled her joy. She was 
as inspired by gaiety as she had been at the Capitol by en- 
thusiasm. This drama blends song with speech, and even 
gives opportunities for extempore dialogue, of which Co- 
rinne availed herself to render the scene more animated. 
She sung the bvffa airs with peculiar elegance. Her 
gestures were at once comic and dignified. She extorted 
laughter, without ceasing to be imposing. Her talents, 
like her part, queened it over actors and spectators, plea- 
santly bantering both parties. Ah ! who would not have 
M'ept over such a sight, could they have known that this 
bright armour but drew down the lightning, that this triumph- 
ant mirth would soon give place to bitter desolation } The 

corinne; or italy. 

applause was so continual^ so judicious, that the rapture of 
the audience infected Corinne with that kind of delirium 
which pours a lethe over the past, and hids the future seem 
unclouded. .Oswald had seen her represent the deepest 
woe, at a time when he still hoped to make her happy ; he 
now beheld her breathing stainless joy, just as he had re- 
ceived tidings that might prove fatal to them both. Oft 
did he wish to take her from this scene of daring happiness, 
yet felt a sad pleasure in once more beholding that lovely 
countenance bedecked in smiles. At the conclusion she 
appeared arrayed as an Amazonian queen, commanding 
men, almost the elements, by that reliance on her charms 
which beauty may preserve, unless she loves ; then, then, 
no gift of nature or of fortune can re-assure her spirit ; but 
this crowned flirt, this fairy queen, miraculously blending 
rage with wit, carelessness with ambition, and conceit with 
despotism, seemed to rule over fate as over hearts ; and 
when she ascended her throne she exacted the submission 
of her subjects with a smile, arch as it was arrogant. This 
was, perhaps, the moment of her life, from which both 
grief and fear seemed farthest banished ; when suddenly 
she saw her lover bow his face on his hands to hide his 
tears. She trembled, and the curtain had not quite fallen, 
when, leaving her already hated throne, she rushed into the 
next apartment. Thither he followed her ; and when she 
marked his paleness, she was seized with such alarm, that 
she was forced to lean against the wall for support. '' Os- 
wald," she said, " my God ! what has happened ? " — " I 
must start for England to-night," he said, forgetting that 
he ought not thus to have exposed her feehngs. — " No, 
no ! " she cried, clinging to him distractedly ; '^ you cannot 
plunge me into such despair. How have I merited it.'' 
or — or — you mean that you will take me with you ? " — 
"^ Let us leave this cruel crowd," he said : " come with me, 
Corinne." She followed him, not understanding aught ad- 
dressed to her, answering at random; her gait and look so 
changed, that every one believed her struck with sudden 

corinne; or italy. 287 


When they were in the gondola, she raved, — ^' What you 
have made me feel is worse than death : be generous : throw 
me into these waves, that I may lose the sense which mad- 
dens me. Oswald, be brave : I have seen you do things that 
required more courage." — ^' Hold, hold ! " he cried, " if 
you would not drive me to suicide. Hear me, when we have 
reached your house, and then pronounce our fate. In the 
name of Heaven be calm ! " There was such misery in his 
accents that she was silent ; but trembled so violently, that 
she could hardly walk up the stairs to her apartment. There 
she tore off her ornaments in dismay ; and, as Lord Nevil 
saw her in this state, a few moments since so brilliant, he 
sunk upon a seat in tears. — " Am I a barbarian ? " he 
cried. " Corinne ! Just Heaven ! Corinne ! do you not 
think me so }" — " No," she said, " no, I cannot. — Have 
you not still that look which every day gives me fresh 
comfort.'' Oswald, your presence is a ray from heaven — 
can I then fear you ? — not dare to read your eyes } but fall 
before you as before my murderer ? Oh, Oswald ! Os- 
wald !" and she threw herself at his feet in supplication. 
" What do I see," he exclaimed, raising her vehemently, 
'* would you dishonour me } Well, be it so. My regiment 
embarks in a month. I will remain, if you betray this all 
commanding grief, but I shall not survive my shame." — 
*' I ask you not to stay," she said ; '* but what harm can 
I do by following you ?" — " We go to the West Indies, 
and no officer is allowed to take his wife." — " Well, well, 
at least let me go to England with you." — " My letters 
also tell me," answered he, " that reports concerning us 
are already in the papers there ; that your identity is sus- 
pected ; and your family, excited by Lady Edgarmond, 
refuse to meet or own you. Give me but time to reconcile 
them, to enforce your rights with your stepmother; for if I 
take you thither, and leave you, ere your name be cleared, 
you will endure all the severe opinions which I shall not be 


by to answer." — '' Then you refuse me every thing ! " 
she said, and sunk insensible to the earth, her forehead re- 
ceiving a wound in the fall. Oswald shrieked at the sight. 
Theresina entered in extreme alarm, and restored her 
mistress to animation ; but when Corinne perceived, in an 
opposite mirror, her own pale and disfigured face, — " Os- 
wald," she sighed, "it was not thus I looked the day 
you met me first. I wore the crown of hope and fame, 
now blood and dust are on my brow ; yet it is not for you 
to despise the state to which you have reduced me. Others 
may, — but you cannot, — you ought to pity me for loving 
thus, — you must ! " — " Stay," he cried, " this is too 
much ;" and signing for Theresina to retire, he took Co- 
rinne in his arms, saying, — " Do what thou wilt with me. 
I must submit to the decrees of Heaven. I cannot abandon 
thee in this distress, nor lead thee to England, before I 
have secured against the insults of that haughty woman. 
I will stay with thee. I cannot depart." These words re- 
called Corinne to herself, yet overwhelmed her with de- 
spair. She felt the necessity that weighed upon her, and, 
with her head reclined, remained long silent. — " Dearest ! " 
said Oswald, " let me hear thy voice. I|^have no other 
support — no other guide now." — " No," replied Corinne, 
*'^ you must leave me," and a flood of tears evinced her 
comparative resignation. — *^ My love," said Nevil, " I 
call to witness this portrait of my father, and you best 
know whether his name is sacred to me, — I swear to it that 
my life is in thy power, if needful to thy happiness. At 
my return from the islands I will see if I cannot restore 
thee to thy due rank in thy father's country. If I fail, I 
will return to Italy, and live or die at thy feet." — " But 
the dangers you are about to brave," she rejoined. — " Fear 
not, I shall escape; or, if I perish, unknown as I am, 
my memory will survive in thy heart ; and when thou hearest 
my name, thou may est say, perhaps with tearful eyes, ' I 
knew him once — he loved me ! ' " — " Ah, leave me !" 
ahe cried : '• you are deceived by my apparent calm ; to- 
morrow, when the sun rises, and I tell myself, ^ I shall 
see him no more,' the thought may kill me ; happy if it 
does." — " Why, Corinne, do you fear } is my solemn 

corinne; or italy. 289 

promise nothing ? Can your heart doubt it ? " — ^' No, I 
respect — too much not to believe you : it would cost me 
more to abjure mine admiration than my love. I look on 
you as an angelic being, — the purest, noblest, that ever shone 
on earth. It is not alone your grace that captivates me, 
but the idea that so many virtues never before united in 
one object, and that your heavenly look was only given to 
express them all. Far be it from me, then, to doubt your 
word. I should fly from the human face for ever if Lord 
Nevil could deceive ; but absence has so many perils, and 

that dreaded word adieu " — ^' Have I not said, never 

— save from my death -bed ? " demanded Oswald, with such 
emotion, that Corinne, terrified for his health, strove to re- 
strain her feehngs, and became more pitiable than before. 
They then began to concert means of writing, and to 
speak on the certainty of rejoining each other. A year 
was the term fixed. Oswald securely believed that the 
expedition would not be longer away. Some time was left 
them still, and Corinne trusted to regain her strength ; but 
when Oswald told her that the gondola would come for 
him at three in the morning, and she saw, by her dial, 
that the hour was not far distant, she shivered as if she 
were approaching the stake : her lover had every instant 
less resolution ; and Corinne, who had never seen his 
mastery over himself thus unmanned, was heart-broken at 
the sight of his great anguish. She consoled him, though 
she must have been a thousand times the most unhappy of 
the two. — '^ Listen ! " she said : " when you are in Lon- 
don, fickle gallants will tell you that love-promises bind 
not your honour ; that every Englishman has liked some 
Italian on his travels, and forgotten her on his return ; that 
a few pleasant months ought to involve neither the giver 
nor the receiver ; that at your age the colour of your whole 
life cannot depend upon the temporary fascinations of a 
foreigner. Now this will seem right in the way of the 
world ; but will you, who know the heart of which you 
made yourself the lord, find excuses in these sophisms for 
inflicting a mortal wound .f* Will barbarous jests from 
men of the day prevent your hand's trembling as it drives 
the poniard through this breast ? " — *^ Hush," said Os- 

290 corinne; or italy. 

wald : " you know it is not your grief alone restrains me ; 
but where could I find such bliss as I have owed to you ? 
Who, in the universe^ can understand me as you do ? 
Corinne, you are the only woman who can feel or inspire 
true love_, that harmonious intelligence of hearts and souls, 
which I shall never enjoy except with you. You know I am 
not fickle : I look on all things seriously ; is it then against 
you only that I should belie my nature ?" — '^ No_," an- 
swered Corinne; '^ you would not treat my fond sincerity 
with scorn : it is not you, Oswald, who could remain in- 
sensible to my despair ; but to you my stepmother will say 
all that can sully my past life. Spare me the task of 
telling you beforehand her pitiless remarks. Far from 
what talents I may boast disarming her, they are my 
greatest errors in her eyes. She cannot feel their charm, 
she only sees their danger : whatever is unlike the destiny 
she herself chose seems useless, if not culpable. The 
poetry of the heart to her appears but an impertinence, 
which usurps the right of depreciating common sense. 
It is in the name of virtues I respect as much as you do 
that she will condemn my character and fate. Oswald, 
she will call me unworthy of you." — " And how should 
I hear that ? " interrupted he : '^ what virtues dare she 
rate above your generosity, your frankness ? No, heavenly 
creature ! be common minds judged by common rules ; but 
shame befall the being you have loved who does not more 
revere than even adore you. Peerless in love and truth, 
Corinne ! my firmness fails ; if you sustain me not I can 
never fly. It is from you I must receive the power to 
pain you." — '' Well," said Corinne, *' there are some 
seconds yet ere I must recommend myself to God, and beg 
he will enable me to hear the hour of your departure strike. 
Oh, Oswald, we love each other with deep tenderness. 
I have intrusted you with all my secrets ; the facts were 
nothing — but the most private feelings of ray heart, you 
know them all. I have not a thought that is not wedded 
to thee: if I write aught in which my soul expands, thou 
art mine inspiration. I address myself to thee, as I shall 
my latest sigh. What, then, is my asylum if thou leavest 
me } The arts will retrace thine image, music thy yoIcc; 

cobinne; or italy. 291 

Genius, which formerly entranced my spirit, is nothing 
now but love, and unshared with thee must perish. Oh, 
God ! " she added, raising her eyes to heaven, " deign but 
to hear me ! Thou art not merciless to our noblest sorrows : 
take back my life when he has ceased to love : it will be 
then but suffering. He carries with him all my highest, 
softest feelings: if he permits the fire shrined in his breast 
to be extinguished, wherever I may be, my life, too, will be 
quenched. Great God ! thou didst not frame me to out- 
live my better self, and what should I become in ceasing 
to esteem him ? He ought to love me ever — I feel he 
ought — my affection should command his. Oh ! heavenly 
Father ! death or his love ! " 

As she concluded this prayer she turned to Oswald, and 
beheld him prostrated before her in strong convulsions: 
he repelled her cares, as if his reason were entirely lost. 
Corinne gently pressed his hand, repeating to him all he 
had said to her, assuring him that she relied on his return. 
Her words somewhat composed him ; yet the nearer the 
hour of separation drew the more impossible it seemed to 
part. " Why," he said, " should we not go to the altar 
and at once take our eternal oaths ? " AH the firmness, all 
the pride of Corinne revived at these words. Oswald had 
told her that a woman's grief once before subdued him, 
but his love had chilled with every sacrifice he made. 
After a moment's silence, she replied, — '^ No, you must 
see your country and your friends before you adopt this 
resolution. I owe it now, my Lord, to the pangs of part- 
ing, and I will not accept it." He took her hand. " At 
least," he said, *^ I swear again my faith is bound to this 
ring ; while you preserve it, never shall another attain a 
right over my actions ; if you at last reject me, and send it 

back " — " Cease," she interposed, '^ cease to talk of a 

fear you never felt; I cannot be the first to break our 
sacred tie, and almost blush to assure you of what you but 
too well know already." Meanwhile the time advanced. 
Corinne turned pale at every sound. Nevil remained in 
speechless grief beside her ; at last a light gleamed through 
the window, and the black, hearse-like gondola stopped 
before the door, Corinne uttered a scream of fright, and 
u 2 


fell into Oswald's arms, crying, " They are here — adieu 
— leave me — all is over!" — '^ Oh God, oh my father!" 
he exclaimed; "what do ye exact of me?" He em- 
braced and wept over his beloved, who continued, — " Go ! 
it must be done — go!" — " Let me call Theresina," he 
said; " I cannot leave you thus alone." — " Alone!" she 
repeated: " shall I not be alone till you return?" — " I 
cannot quit this room ; it is impossible," he articulated, with 
desperation. — " Well," said Corinne; "then it is I must 
give the signal. I will open the door ; but when I have 
done so, spare me a few short instants." — "^ Yes, yes," 
he murmured, *' let us be still together, though these cruel 
combats are even w^orse than absence." They now heard 
the boatmen calling up Lord Nevil's servants; one of 
whom soon tapped at the door, informing him that all 
was ready. — " All is ready," echoed Corinne, and knelt 
beside his father's portrait. Doubtless her former life 
then passed in review before her; she exaggerated every 
fault, and feared herself unworthy of Divine compassion, 
though far too WTetched to exist without it. When she 
arose, she held forth her hand to Nevil, saying, — " Now I 
can bid you farewell — a moment more, and, perhaps, I could 
not. May God protect your steps, and mine, — for I much 
need his care!" Oswald flung himself once more into 
her arms, trembling and pale like one prepared for torture, 
and left the room, where, perhaps, for the last time, he 
had loved, and felt himself beloved, as few have ever been, 
or ever can be. 

When he disappeared, a ' horrid palpitation attacked 
Corinne ; she could not breathe ; every thing she beheld 
looked unreal ; objects seemed vanishing from her sight ; 
the chamber tottering as from a shock of earthquake. For 
a quarter of an hour she heard the servants completing 
the preparations for this journey. He was still near ; she 
might yet again behold him, speak to him once more ; 
but she would not trust herself. Oswald lay almost sense- 
loss in the gondola ; at last it rowed away ; and at that 
moment Corinne fled forth to recall him ; but Theresina 
stopped her. A heavy rain was faUing, and a high wind 
arose: the house was now, indeed, shaken like a ship at 

corinnh; or italy. 293 

sea, and Oswald had to cross the Lagune in such weather ! 
Corinne descended, purposing to follow him, at least till 
he should land in safety ; but it was so dark that not a 
single gondola was plying : she walked, in dreadful agi- 
tation, the narrow pavement that divides the houses from 
the water. The storm increased: she called upon the 
boatmen, who mistook her cries for those of some poor 
creature drowning, — yet no one dared approach, the waves 
of the grand canal had swollen so formidably. Corinne 
remained till daybreak in this state ; meanwhile the tem- 
pest ceased. One of the gondoliers brought word from 
Oswald that he had crossed securely. That moment was 
almost a happy one ; and it was some hours ere the un- 
fortunate creature again felt the full weight of absence, or 
calculated the long days which but anxiety and grief might 
henceforth occupy. 


During the first part of his journey, Oswald was frequently 
on the point of returning ; but the motives for perseverance 
vanquished this desire. We make a solemn step towards the 
limits of Love's empire, after we have once disobeyed him — 
the dream of his resistlessness is over. On approaching Eng- 
land, all Oswald's homefelt recollections returned. The 
year he had passed abroad had no connection with any 
other era of his life. A glorious apparition had charmed 
his fancy, but could not change the tastes, the opinions, of 
which his existence had been, till then, composed. He 
regained himself; and though regret prevented his yet 
feeling any delight, his thoughts began to steady from 
the Italian intoxication which had unsettled them. No 
sooner had he landed than his mind was struck with the 
ease, the order, the wealth, and industry he looked on ; the 
habits and inclinations to which he was born waked with 
more force than ever. 

In a land where men have so much dignity,, and women 
u 3 


SO much virtue^ where domestic peace is the basis of public 
welfare, Oswald could but remember Italy to pity her. 
He saw the stamp of human reason upon all things ; he 
had lately found, in social life as in state institutions, 
nothing but confusion, weakness, and ignorance. Painting 
and poetry gave place in his heart to freedom and to 
morals ; and, much as he loved Corinne, he gently blamed 
her for wearying of a race so wise, so noble. Had he left 
her imaginative land tor one of bare frivolity, he would 
have pined for it still ; but now he exchanged the vague 
yearnings after romantic rapture, for pride in the truest 
blessings — security and independence. He returned to a 
career that suits man's mind — action that has an aim ! 
Reverie may be the heritage of women, weak and resigned 
from their birth ; but man would win what he desires : 
his courage irritates him against his fate, unless he can 
direct it by his will. In London, Oswald met his early 
friends : he heard that language so condensed in power, 
that it seems to imply more thoughts than it explains. 
Again he saw those serious countenances that kindle or 
that melt so suddenly, when deep affections triumph over 
their habit of reserve. He once more tasted the pleasure 
of making discoveries in the human heart, there by de- 
grees revealed to the observant eye. He felt himself in 
his own land, and those who never left it know not by 
how many links it is endeared to them. The image of 
Corinne mingled with all these impressions"; and the more 
reluctant he felt to leave his country, the more he wished 
to marry, and fix in Scotland with her. He was even 
impatient to embark that he might return the sooner ; but 
the expedition was suspended, though still liable to be 
ordered abroad immediately. No officer, therefore, could 
dispose of his time even for a fortnight. Lord Nevil 
doubly felt his separation from Corinne, having neither 
leisure nor Uberty to form or follow any decided plan. 
He passed six weeks in London, fretted by every moment 
thus lost to her. Finally, he resolved to beguile his im- 
patience by a short visit to Northumberland, and, by in- 
fluencing Lady Edgarmond to recognise the daughter of 
her late lord, contradict the report of her death, and the 

corinne; or italy. 29^ 

unfavourable insinuations of the papers ; for he longed ta 
tender her the rank and respect so thoroughly her due. 


Oswald reflected with emotion that he was about to behold 
the scene in which Corinne had passed so many years. He 
felt embarrassed by the necessity of informing Lady Edgar- 
mond that he could not make Lucy his wife. The north 
of England, too, reminded him of Scotland, and the memory 
of his father was never absent from his mind. 

When he reached Lady Edgarmond's estate, he was 
struck by the good taste which pervaded its grounds ; and, 
as the mistress of the mansion was not ready to receive 
him, he walked awhile in the park : through its foliage he 
beheld a youthful and elegant figure reading with much 
attention. A beautiful fair curl, escaping from her bonnet, 
told him that this was Lucy, whom three years had im- 
proved from child to woman. He approached her, bowed, 
and forgetting where he was, would have imprinted a re- 
spectful kiss upon her hand, after the Italian mode ; but 
the young lady drew back, and, blushing as she courtesied, 
replied, ^' I will inform my mother, sir, that you desire to 
see her." She withdrew, and Nevil remained awed by the 
modest air of that angelic face. Lucy had just entered her 
sixteenth year ; her features were extremely delicate ; she 
had a little outgrown her strength, as might be judged by 
her gait and mutable complexion. Her blue eyes were so 
downcast that her countenance owed its chief attraction to 
these rapid changes of colour, which alone betrayed her 
feehngs. Oswald, since he had dwelt in the south, had 
never beheld this species of expression. He reproached him-* 
self for having accosted her with such familiarity ; and, as he 
followed her to the Castle, mused on the perfect innocence 
of a girl who had never left her mother, nor felt one emo- 
tion stronger than filial tenderness. Lady Edgarmond was 
alone when she received him. He had seen her twice, 
u 4» 


some years before, without any particular notice ; but now 
he observed her carefully, comparing her with the descrip- 
tions of Corinne. He found them correct in many respects ; 
yet he thought that he detected more sensibility than she 
had done, not being accustomed, like himself, to guess what 
such self-regulated physiognomies conceal. His first anxiety 
was on Corinne's account, and he began the conversation 
by praising Italy. " It is an amusing residence for men," 
returned Lady Edgarmond ; "^ but I should be very sorry 
if any woman, in whom I felt an interest, could long be 
pleased with it." — " And yet," continued Oswald, already 
hurt by this insinuation, " I found there the most dis- 
tinguished woman I ever met." — " Probably, as to mental 
attainments ; but an honourable man seeks other qualities 
in the companion of his life." — " And he woulcl find 
them !" he said warmly : he might have made his meaning 
clear at once, but that Lucy entered, and said a few words 
apart to her mother, who replied aloud, ^' No, my dear, 
you cannot go to your cousin's to-day. Lord Nevil dines 
here." Lucy blushed, seated herself beside her mother, 
and took up her embroidery, from which she never raised 
her eyes, nor did she utter a syllable. Nevil was almost 
angry : it was most probable that Lucy knew there had been 
some idea of their union : he remembered all Corinne had 
said on the probable effects of the severe education Lady 
Edgarmond would give her daughter. In England young 
girls are usually more at liberty than married' women : rea- 
son and morality alike favour their privileges ; but Lady 
Edgarmond would have had all females thus rigorously 
secluded. Oswald could not, before Lucy, explain his in- 
tentions relative to Corinne ; and Lady Edgarmond kept 
up a discourse on other subjects, with a firm and simple 
good sense, that extorted his deference. He would have 
combated her strict opinions, but he felt that if he used 
one word in a different acceptation from her own, she 
would form an opinion which nothing could efface ; and he 
hesitated at this first step, so irreparable with a person 
who will make no individual exceptions, but judges every 
hing by fixed and general rules. Dinner was announced ; 
and Lucy offered her arm to Lady Edgarmond. Oswald 

corinne; or italy. 297 

^ then first discovered that his hostess walked with great 
difficulty. ^' I am suffering/' she said, " from a painful, 
perhaps a fatal ailment." Lucy turned pale; and her 
mother resumed, with a more gentle cheerfulness, '' My 
daughter's attention has once saved my life, and may pre- 
serve it long." Lucy bent her head, and when she raised 
it, her lashes were still wet with tears ; yet she dared not 
even take her mother's hand : all had passed at the bottom 
of her heart ; and she was only conscious of a stranger's pre- 
sence, from thenecessityof concealing her agitation. Oswald 
deeply felt this restraint of hers, and his mind, so lately thrilled 
by passionate eloquence, refreshed itself by contemplating 
so chastely simple a picture. Lucy seemed enveloped in 
some immaculate veil, that sweetly baffled his speculations. 
During dinner she spared her mother from all fatigue — 
serving every thing herself; and Nevil only heard her 
voice when she offered to help him ; but these common- 
place courtesies were performed with such enchanting 
grace, that he asked himself how it was possible for such 
slight actions to betray so much soul. " One must have," 
he said to himself, '' either the genius of Corinne, that 
surpasses all one could imagine, or this pure unconscious 
mystery, which leaves every man free to suppose whatever 
virtues he prefers." 

The mother and daughter rose from table: he would 
have followed them ; but her Ladyship adhered so scru- 
pulously to old customs, that she begged he would wait 
till they sent to let him know the tea was ready. He 
joined them in a quarter of an hour. Most part of the 
evening passed without his having one opportunity of 
speaking to Lady Edgarmond as he designed. He was 
about to depart for the town, purposing to return on the 
morrow, when his hostess offered him a room in the castle. 
He accepted it without deliberation ; but repented his 
readiness, on perceiving that it seemed to be taken as a 
proof of his inclination towards Lucy. This was but an 
additional motive for his renewing the conversation re- 
specting Corinne. Lady Edgarmond proposed a turn in 
the garden. Oswald offered her his arm : she looked at 

him steadfastly, and then said, *' That is right ; I thank 

298 corinne; or italy. 

you." Lucy resigned her parent to Nevil, but timidly 
whispered, " Pray, my Lord, walk slowly ! " He started at 
this first private intelligence with her : those pitying tones 
were just such as he might have expected from a being 
above all earthly passions. He did not think his sense of 
such a moment any treason to Corinne. They returned 
for evening prayer, at which her Ladyship always as- 
sembled her household in the great hall. Most of them 
were very infirm, having served the fathers of Lord and 
Lady Edgarmond. Oswald was thus reminded of his 
paternal home. Every one knelt, except the matron, who, 
prevented by her lameness, listened with folded hands and 
downcast eyes in reverent silence. Lucy was, on her 
knees beside her parent : it was her duty to read the ser- 
vice ; a chapter of the Gospel, followed by a prayer adapted 
to domestic country life, composed by the mistress of the 
house : its somewhat austere expressions were contrasted 
by the soft voice that breathed them. 

After blessing the king and country, the servants and 
the kindred of this family, Lucy tremblingly added, 
*^ Grant also, O God ! that the young daughter of this 
house may live and die with soul unsullied by a single 
thought or feeling that conforms not with her duty ; and 
that her mother, who must soon return to thee for judg^ 
ment, may have some claim on pardon for her faults, in 
the virtues of her only child ! " 

Lucy said this prayer daily; but now Oswald's presence 
so affected her, that tears, which she strove to conceal, 
flowed down her cheeks. He was touched with respectful 
tenderness, as he gazed on the almost infantine face, that 
looked as if it still remembered having dwelt in heaven. 
Its beauty, thus surrounded by age and decrepitude, was an 
image of divine commiseration. He reflected on her lonely 
life, deprived of all the pleasures, all the flatteries, due to 
her youth and charms : his soul melted towards her. The 
mother of Lucy, too, he found a person more severe to 
herself than to others. I'he limits of her mind might 
rather be attributed to the strength of her principles than 
to any natural deficiencies : the asperity of her character was 
acquired from repressed impulses; and, as Corinne had said^ 

corinne; 01* ITALY. 299 

her affection for her child gained force from this extreme 
control of all others. 

By ten in the evening all was silent throughout the 
castle, and Oswald left to muse over his few last hours : 
he owned not to himself that Lucy had made an impression 
on his heart ; perhaps, as yet, this was not the case ; but 
in spite of the thousand attractions Corinne offered to his 
fancy, there was one class of ideas, that Lucy might have 
reigned more supremely than her sister. The image of 
domestic feUcity suited better with a retreat in Northum- 
berland than with a coronation at the Capitol ; besides, he 
remembered which of these sisters his father had selected 
for him : but he loved Corinne, was beloved by her, had 
given her his faith, and therefore persisted in his intention 
of confiding this to Lady Edgarmond on the morrow. He 
fell asleep thinking of Italy, but still the form of Lucy 
flitted lightly before him. He awoke : when he slept again, 
the same dream returned; at last this ethereal shape 
seemed flying from him, he strove to detain her, and 
started up, as she disappeared, fearing her lost to him. 
The day had broken, and he left his room to enjoy a 
morning walk. 


The sun was just risen. Oswald supposed that no one 
was yet stirring, till he perceived Lucy already drawing 
in a balcony. Her hair, not yet fastened, was waving in 
the gale : she looked so like his dream, that for a moment 
he started, as if he had beheld a spirit ; and though soon 
ashamed at having been so affected by such a natural cir- 
cumstance, he remained for some time beneath her station, 
but she did not perceive him. As he pursued his walk, he 
wished more than ever for the presence that would have 
dissipated these half-formed impressions. Lucy was an 
enigma, which Corinne's genius could have solved; without 
her aid, it took a thousand changeful forms in his mind's 

300 corinne; or italy. 

eye. He re-entered the drawing-room, and found Lucy 
placing her morning's work in a Httle brown frame, facing 
her mother's tea-table. It was a white rose, on its leafy 
stalk, finished to perfection. " You draw, then ?" he said. 
— " No, my Lord," she answered ; " 1 merely copy the 
easiest flowers I can find : there is no master near us : the 
little I ever learnt I owe to a sister who used to give me 
lessons." She sighed. — " And what is become of her?" 
asked Oswald. — ^' She is dead ; but I shall always regret 
her." — He found that she, too, had been deceived*; but 
her confession of regret evinced so amiable a disposition, 
that he felt more pleased, more affected, than before. 
Lucy was about to retire, remembering that she was alone 
with Lord Nevil, when Lady Edgarmond joined them. 
She looked on her daughter with surprise and displeasure, 
and motioned her to withdraw. This first informed Os- 
wald, that Lucy had done something very extraordinary, in 
remaining a few minutes with a man out of her mother's 
presence ; and he was as much gratified as he would have 
been by a decided mark of preference under other auspices. 
Lady Edgarmond took her seat, and dismissed the servant 
who had supported her to the sofa. She was pale, and her 
lips trembled as she offered a cup of tea to Lord Nevil. 
These symptoms increased his own embarrassment, yet, 
animated by zeal for her he loved, he began, " Lady Ed- 
garmond, I have often in Italy seen a female particularly 
interesting to you." — " I cannot believe it," she answered 
dryly : " no one there interests me." — '^ I should think 
that the daughter of your husband had some claim on your 
affection." — " If the daughter of my husband be indiffer- 
ent to her duties and reputation, though I surely cannot 
wish her any ill, I shall be very glad to hear no more of 
her." — ^'^ But," said Oswald quickly, '' if the woman your 
Ladyship deserts is celebrated by the world for her great 
and varied talents, will you for ever thus disdain her ? " 
— '' Not the less, sir, for the abilities that wean her from 
her rightful occupations. There are plenty of actresses, 

• A religious, moral, English gentlewoman propose a romantic falsehood, 
so likely to wreck its theme on the dangers against which Lady Edgarmond 
warned Corinne ! This anti-national inconsistency neutralises all the rest of. 
Madame de Stael's intended satire. — Ta. 

corinne; or italy. 301 

artists^ and musicians, to amuse society: in our rank, a 
woman's only becoming station is that which devotes her 
to her husband and children." — " Madam/' rf^turned 
Oswald, " such talents cannot exist without an elevated 
character and a generous heart : do you censure them for 
extending the mind, and giving a more vast, more general 
influence to virtue itself? " — ^' Virtue ! " she repeated, with 
a bitter smile ; " I know not what you mean by the word, 
so applied. The virtue of a young woman, who flies from 
her father's home, estabUshes herself in Italy, leads the 
freest life, receives all kinds of homage, to say no worse, 
sets an example pernicious to others as to herself, abandon- 
ing her rank, her family, her name " — " Madam,*' 

interrupted Oswald, ^' she sacrificed her name to you, and to 
your daughter, whom she feared to injure." — '' She knew 
that she dishonoured it, then," replied the stepmother. — 
^' This is too much," said Oswald, violently : '' Corinne 
Edgarmond will soon be Lady Nevil, and we shall then 
see if you blush to acknowledge the daughter of your lord. 
You confound with the vulgar herd a being gifted like no 
other woman — an angel of goodness, tender and diflSdent 
at heart, as she is sublime' of soul. She may have had her 
faults, if that innate superiority that could not conform 
with common rules be one, but a single deed or word of 
hers might well efface them all. She will more honour the 
man she chooses to protect her than could the empress of a 
world." — ''^ Be that man, then, my Lord!" said Lady 
Edgarmond, making an effort to restrain her feelings : 
" satirise me as narrow minded ; nothing you say can 
change me. I understand by morality, an exact observ- 
ance of established rules ; beyond which, fine qualities 
misapplied deserve at best but pity." — '' The world would 
have been very sterile, my Lady," said Oswald, ^' had it 
always thought as you do of genius and enthusiasm : human 
nature would have become a thing of mere formalities. But, 
not to continue this fruitless discussion, I will only ask, if 
you mean to acknowledge your daughter-in-law, when she 
is my wife?" — " Still less on that account," answered her 
Ladyship : " I owe your father's memory my exertions to 
prevent so fatal an union if I can." — " My father !" re- 

302 corinne; or italy. 

peated Nevil, always agitated by that name. — ^' Are you 
ignorant/' she continued, "^ that he refused her, ere she 
had committed any actual fault ? foreseeing, with the per- 
fect sagacity that so characterised him, what she would one 
day become ? " — '' How, madam ! what more know you of 
this ?" — "^ Your father's letter to Lord Edgarmond on the 
subject," interrupted the lady, " is in the hands of his 
old friend, Mr. Dickson. I sent it to him, when I heard 
of your connection with this Corinne, that you might read 
it on your return : it would not have become me to retain 
it." Oswald, after a few moments' silence, resumed: — " I 
ask your Ladyship but for an act of justice, due to your- 
self, that is, to receive your husband's daughter as she 
deserves." — ^' I shall not, in any way, my Lord, contri- 
bute to your misery. If her present nameless and unma- 
tronised existence be an obstacle to your marrying her, 
God, and your father, forbid that I should remove it ! " 
— "^ Madam," he exclaimed, " her misfortunes are but 
added chains that bind me to her." — " Well," replied Lady 
Edgarmond, with an impetuosity to which she would not 
have given way had not her own child been thus deprived 
of a suitable husband, " well, render yourself wretched 
then ! she will be so too : she hates this country, and 
never will comply with its manners : this is no theatre for 
the versatile ■ talents you so prize, and which render her so 
fastidious. She will carry you back to Italy : you will 
forswear your friends and native land, for a lovely foreigner, 
I confess, but for one who could forget you, if you wished 
it. Those flighty brains are ever changeful : deep griefs were 
made for the women you deem so common-place, those 
who live but for their homes and families." This was, 
perhaps, the first time in her life that Lady Edgarmond 
had spoken on impulse : it shook her weakened nerves ; and, 
as she ceased, she sunk back, half fainting. Oswald rang 
loudly for help. Lucy ran in alarmed, hastened to revive 
her parent, and cast on Nevil an uneasy look, that seemed 
to say, '' Is it you who have made mamma so ill ? " He felt 
this deeply, and strove to atone by attentions to Lady 
Edgarmond ; but she repulsed him coldly, blushing to 
think that she had seemed to pride but little in her girl, by 

corinne; or italy. 303 

betraying this anxiety to secure her a reluctant bridegroom. 
She bade Lucy leave them ; and said calmly_, *' My Lord, 
at all events, I beg that you will consider yourself free. 
My daughter is so young, that she is no way concerned in 
the project formed by your father and myself; but that 
being changed, it would be an indecorum for me to receive 
you until she is married." Nevil bowed. — " I will con- 
tent myself, then," he said, ''^ with writing to you on the 
fate of a person whom I can never desert." — " You are the 
master of that fate," concluded Lady Edgarmond, in a 
smothered voice ; and Oswald departed. In riding down 
the avenue, he perceived, at a distance, the elegant figure of 
young Lucy. He checked his horse to look on her once 
more, and it appeared that she took the same direction with 
himself. The high road passed before a summer-house^ at 
the end of the park; he saw her enter it, and went by with 
some reluctance, unable to discern her: he frequently 
turned his head, and, at a point from which the road was 
best commanded, observed a slight movement among the 
trees. He stopped ; it ceased : uncertain whether he had 
guessed correctly, he proceeded, then abruptly rode back 
with the speed of hghtning, as if he had dropped something 
by the way ; there, indeed, he saw her, on the edge of the 
bank, and bowed respectfully : she drew down her veil, 
and hastily concealed herself in the thicket, forgetting that 
she thus tacitly avowed the motive which had brought her 
there. The poor child had never felt so guilty in her life ; 
and far from thinking of simply returning his salute, she 
feared that she must have lost his good opinion by having 
been so forward. Oswald felt flattered by this blameless 
and timorous sincerity. '' No one," thought he, " could 
be more candid than Corinne; but then, no one better 
knew herself or others. Lucy has all to learn. Yet this 
charm of the day, could it suffice for a life.^ this pretty 
ignorance cannot endure ; and since we must penetrate thfc 
secrets of our own hearts at last, is not the candour which 
survives such examination worth more than that which 
precedes it ? " This comparison, he believed, was but an 
amusement to his mind, which could never occupy it more 




Oswald proceeded to Scotland. The effect of Lucy's pre- 
sence, the sentiment he still felt for Corinne, alike gave 
place to the emotions that awakened at the sight of scenes 
where he had dwelt with his father. He upbraided him- 
self with the dissipations in which he had spent the last 
year; fearing that he was no longer worthy to re-enter 
the abode he now wished he had never quitted. Alas I 
after the loss of life's dearest object, how can we be con- 
tent with ourselves, unless in perfect retirement ? We 
cannot mix in society without, in some way, neglecting 
our worship of the dead. In vain their memory reigns 
in the heart's core ; we lend ourselves to the activity of the 
living, which banishes the thought of death as painful and 
unavailing. If sohtude prolongs not our regrets, life, as it 
is, calls back the most feeling minds, renews their in- 
terests, their passions. This imperious necessity is one 
of the sad conditions of human nature ; and although de- 
creed by Providence, that man may support the idea of 
death, both for himself and others, yet often, in the 
midst of our enjoyments, we feel remorse at being still 
capable of them, and seem to hear a resigned, affecting 
voice asking us, — " Have you, whom I so loved, for- 
gotten me?" Oswald felt not now the despair he had 
suffered on his first return home after his father's death, , 
but a melancholy, deepened by his perceiving that time 
had accustomed every one else to the loss he still deplored. 
The servants no longer thought it their duty to speak of 
their late lord ; his place in the rank of life was filled ; 
children grew up as substitutes for their sires. Oswald 
shut himself in his father's room, for lonely meditation. 
' Oh, human destiny ! " he sighed, " what wouldst thou 
have.'* so much life perish.? so many thoughts expire? 
No, no ! my only friend hears me, yet sees my tears, is 
present, — our immortal spirits still commune. Oh, God I 
be thou my guide. Those iron souls, that seem immovable 


as nature's rocks, pity not the vacillations and repentance 
of the sensitive, the conscientious, who cannot take one 
step without the fear of straying from the right. They 
may bid duty lead them, but duty's self would vanish 
from their eyes, if Thou revealedst not the truth to their 

In the evening Oswald roved through the favourite 
walks of his father. Who has not hoped, in the ardour 
of his prayers, that the one dear shade would re-appear, 
and miracles be wrought by the force of love ? Vain 
trust ! beyond the tomb we can see nothing. These end- 
less uncertainties occupy not the vulgar, but the nobler 
the mind the more incontrollably is it involved in specu- 
lations. While Oswald wandered thus absorbed, he did, 
indeed, behold a venerable man slowly advancing towards 
him. Such a sight, at such a time and place, took a 
strong effect; but he soon recognised his father's friend, 
Mr. Dickson, and with an affection which he never felt for 
him before. 


This gentleman in no way equalled the parent of Oswald, 
but -he was with him at his death; and having been born 
in the same year, he seemed to linger behind but to carry 
Lord Nevil some tidings of his son. Oswald offered him 
his arm as they went up stairs; and felt a pleasure in 
paying attention to age, however little resembling that of 
his father. Mr. Dickson remembered Oswald's birth, and 
hesitated not to speak his mind on all that concerned his 
young friend, strongly reprimanding his connection with 
Corinne ; but his weak arguments would have gained less 
ascendancy over Oswald's mind than those of Lady Edgar.* 
mond, had he not handed him the letter to which she 
alluded. With considerable tremor he read as follows : — 

'^ Will you forgive me, my dear friend, if I propose 
a change of plan in the union of our famiUes.'* My 

S06 corinne; or italy. 

son is more than a year younger than your eldest daugh- 
ter ; will it not be better, therefore, that he should wait 
for the little Lucy ? I might confine myself to the subject 
of age ; but, as I knew Miss Edgarmond's when first I 
named my wishes, I should deem myself wanting in con- 
fidence, if I did not tell you my true reasons for desiring 
that this marriage may not take place. We have known 
each other for twenty years, and may speak frankly of our 
children, especially while they are young enough to be 
improved by our opinions. Your daughter is a charming 
girl, but I seem to be gazing on one of those Grecian 
beauties who, of old, enchanted and subdued the world. 
Do not be offended by this comparison. She dan have 
received from you none but the purest principles ; yet she 
certainly loves to produce an effect, and create a sensation : 
she has more genius than self-love; such talents as hers 
necessarily engender a taste for display ; and I know no 
theatre that could suflice the activity of a spirit, whose 
impetuous fancy, and ardent feelings, break through each 
word she utters. She would inevitably wean my son from 
England ; for such a woman could not be happy here : 
only Italy can content her. She must have that free life 
which is guided but by fantasy : our domestic country 
habits must thwart her every taste. A man born in this 
happy land ought to be in all things English, and fulfil 
the duties to which he is so fortunately called. In coun- 
tries whose political intitutions give men such honourable 
opportunities for public action, the women should bloom 
in the shade : can you expect so distinguished a person as 
your daughter to be satisfied with such a lot ? Take my 
advice. Marry her in Italy : her religion and manners 
suit that country. If my son should wed her, I am sure 
it would be from love, for no one can be more engaging : 
to please her, he would endeavour to introduce foreign 
customs into his establishment, and would soon lose his 
national character, those prejudices, if you please to call 
them so, which unite us with each other, and render 
us a body free but indissoluble, or which can only be 
broken up by the death of its last associate. My son could 
not be comfortable where his wife was unhappy: he is 

corinne; or Italy. 307 

sensitive^ even to weakness ; and his expatriation, if I lived 
to see it, would render me most' miserable; not merely as 
deprived of my son, but as knowing him lost to the glory 
of serving his native land. Is it worthy a mountaineer to 
drag on a useless life amid the pleasures of Italy ? A Scot 
become the cicisbeo of his own wife, if not of some other 
man's ? Neither the guide nor the prop of his family ! 
I even rejoice that Oswald is now in France, and still un- 
known to a lady whose empire over him would be too 
great. I dare conjure you, my dear friend, should I die 
before his marriage, do not let him meet your eldest daugh- 
ter until Lucy be of an age to fix his affections. Let him 
fearn my wishes, if requisite. I know he will respect 
them — the more if I should then be removed from this 
life. Give all your attention, I entreat you, to his union 
with Lucy. Child as she is, her features, look, and voice, 
all express the most endearing modesty. She will be a 
true Englishwoman, and may constitute the happiness of 
my boy. If I do not live to witness their felicity, I shall 
exult over it in heaven ; and when we re-unite there, my 
dear friend, our prayers and benedictions will protect our 
children still. " Ever yours, 

'^ Nevil." 

After reading this, Oswald remained silent, and left 
Mr. Dickson time to continue his long discourse without 
interruption. He admired the judgment of his friend, 
who, nevertheless, he said, was far from anticipating the 
reprehensible life Miss Edgarmond had since led : a mar- 
riage between Oswald and herself now, he added, would 
be an eternal insult to Lord Nevil's memory ; who, it 
appeared, during his son's fatal residence in France, had 
passed a whole summer at Lady Edgarmond's, solacing him- 
self by superintending the education of his favourite Lucy. 
In fact, without either artifice or forbearance, Mr. Dick- 
son attacked the heart of Oswald through all the avenues 
of sensibility. Thus every thing conspired against the ab- 
sent Corinne, who had no means, save letters, for reviving, 
from time to time, the tenderness of Oswald. She had to 
contend with his love of country, his filial remorse, the 
X 2 

308 cobinne; ob italy* 

exhortations of his friends, in favour of resolutions so easy 
to adopt, as they led him towards a hudding beauty, whose 
every charm seemed to harmonise with the calm, chaste 
hopes of a domestic lot. 




CoBiNNE, meanwhile, had settled in a villa on the 
Brenta : she could not quit the scenes in which she had 
last met Oswald — and also hoped that she should here re- 
ceive her letters earlier than at Rome. Prince Castel 
Forte had written, begging leave to visit her ; but she 
refused. The friendship existing between them com- 
manded mutual confidence ; and had he striven to detach 
her from her love, — had he told her what she so 
often told herself, — that absence must decrease Nevil's 
attachment, one inconsiderate word would have been a 
dagger to her heart. She wished to see no one ; yet it is 
not easy to live alone, while the soul is ardent, and its 
situation unfortunate. The employments of sohtude re- 
quire peace of mind : if that be lost, forced gaiety, how- 
ever troublesome, is more serviceable than meditation. If 
we could trace madness to 'its source, we should surely 
find that it originated in the power of one single thought, 
which excluded all mental variety. Corinne's imagination 
consumed herself, unless diverted by external excitement. 
What a life now succeeded that which she had led for 
nearly a year, with the man of her heart's choice for ever 
with her, as her most appreciating companion, her tenderest 
friend, and fondest lover! Now all was barren around 

corinne; or italy. S0§ 

and gloomy within her. The only interesting event was the 
Arrival of a letter from him ; and the irregularity of the 
post, during winter, every day tormented her with expect- 
ations, often disappointed. Each morning she walked on the 
banks of the canal, now covered by large leaved water lilies, 
watching for the black gondola, which she had learnt to dis- 
tinguish afar off. How did her heart beat, as she perceived 
it ! Sometimes the messenger would answer, ^'^ No letters 
for you, madam," and carelessly proceed to other matters, 
as if nothing were so simple as to have no letters : another 
time he would say, '^ Yes, madam, here are some." She 
ran over them all with a trembling hand : if the well- 
known characters of Oswald met not her eye, the day was 
terrible, the night sleepless, the morrow redoubled her 
anxiety and suspense. " Surely," she thought, '^ he might 
write more frequently ;" and her next letter reproached 
his silence. He justified himself ; but his style had already 
lost some of its tenderness : instead of expressing his own 
solicitude, it seemed but attempting to dissipate hers. 
This change did not escape her: day and night would 
she reperuse a particular phrase, seeking some new inter- 
pretation on which to build a few days' composure. This 
state shattered her nerves: she became superstitious. 
Constantly occupied by the same fear, we may draw pre- 
sages from every thing. One day in every week she went 
to Venice, for the purpose of receiving her letters some 
hours earlier : this merely varied the tortures of waiting ; 
and in a short time she conceived as great a horror for 
every object she encountered on her way, as if they had 
been the spectres of her own thoughts, re-appearing clothed 
in the most dreadful aspects. Once, on entering the 
church of St. Mark, she remembered how, on her arrival 
in Venice, the idea had occurred to her that perhaps, ere 
she departed. Oswald would lead her thither to call her 
his in sight of heaven. She gave way once more to this 
illusion ; saw him approach the altar ; heard him vow be- 
fore his God to love her for ever ; they knelt together, 
and she received the nuptial crown. The organ, then 
playing, and the lights that shone through the aisle, gave 
life to her vision; and for a moment she felt not the 
z 3 


cruel void of absence : but suddenly a dreary murmur suc- 
ceeded — she turned^ and beheld a bier brought into the 
church. She staggered ; her sight almost failed ; and from 
that moment she felt convinced that her love for Oswald 
would lead her but to the grave. 


Lord Nevil was now the most unhappy and irresolute of 
men. He must either break the heart of Corinne^ ov 
outrage the memory of his father. Cruel alternative ! to 
escape which he called on death a thousand times a day. At 
last he once more resorted to his habitual procrastination, 
telling himself that he would go to Venice, since he could 
not resolve to write Corinne the truth, and make her his 
judge ; but then he daily expected that his regiment would 
embark. He was free from all engagement with Lucy. 
He believed it his duty not to marry Corinne ; but in 
what other way could he pass his life with her ? Could 
he desert his country .f* or bring her to it, and ruin her 
fair name for ever ? He resolved to hide from her the 
obstacles which he had encountered from her stepmother, 
because he still hoped ultimately to su]t'mount them. 
Manifold causes rendered his letters brief, or filled them 
with subjects remote from his future prospects. Any one, 
save Corinne, would have guessed all ; but passion rendered 
her at once quick-sighted and credulous. In such a state 
we see nothing in a natural manner ; but discover what is 
concealed, while blind to that which should seem clearest. 
We cannot brook the idea of suffering so much without 
some extraordinary cause ; we will not confess to ourselves 
that such despair may be produced by the simplest circum- 
stances in life. Though Oswald pitied her, and blamed 
himself, his correspondence betrayed an irritation which 
it did not explain ; wildly reproaching her for what he 
endured, as if she had not been far the most unfortunate. 

corinne; or italy. 311 

This tone deprived her of all mastery over herself. Her: 
mind was disordered by the most fatal images : she could 
not believe that the being capable of writing with such 
abrupt and heartless bitterness was the same Oswald she 
had known so generous^ so tender. She felt a resistless 
desire to see and speak with him once more. " Let me 
hear him tell me/' she raved, "that it is he who thus 
mercilessly stabs her whose least pain once so strongly 
afflicted him ; let him say so, and I submit : but some 
infernal power seems to inspire this language ; it is not 
Oswald who writes thus to me. They have slandered me 
to him : some treachery must be exerted, or I could not 
be used thus." She adopted the resolution of going to 
Scotland, if we may so call the impulse of an imperious 
grief, which would, fain alter its present situation at all 
hazards. She dared not write nor speak to any one on 
this subject, still flattering herself that some fortunate 
change would prevent her acting on a plan which, never- 
theless, soothed her imagination, and forced her to look 
forward. To read was now impossible : music thrilled 
her to agony; and the charms of nature induced a reverie 
that redoubled her distress. This creature, once so ani- 
mated, now passed whole days in motionless silence. Her 
internal pangs were but betrayed by a mortal paleness: 
her eyes were frequently fixed upon her watch, though she 
knew not why she should wish one hour to succeed an- 
other, since not one of them could bring her aught, save 
restless nights and despairing days. 

One evening she was informed that a female was 
earnestly requesting to see her : she consented ; and the; 
woman entered her presence dressed in black, and veiled, 
to conceal, as much as possible, a face deformed by the 
most frightful malady. Thus wronged by nature, she 
consoled herself by collecting alms for the poor ; demanding 
them nobly, and with an affecting confidence of success. 
Corinne gave her a large sum, entreating her prayers in 
return. The poor being, resigned to her own fate, was 
astonished to behold a person so lovely, young, rich, and 
celebrated, a prey to sorrow. " My God, madam ! " she 
cried, " I would you were as calm as I ] " What an address 
X 4 

512 corinne; or italy. 

from such an object to the most brilliant woman in Italy ! Alas* 
the power of love is too vast in souls like hers. Happy are 
they who consecrate to heaven the sentiments no earthly ties 
can merit. That time was not yet come for poor Corinne; 
she still deceived herself, still sought for bliss ; she prayed, 
indeed, but not submissively. Her peerless talents, the 
glory they had won, gave her too great an interest in her- 
self. It is only by detaching our hearts from all the world 
that we can renounce the thing we love. Every other sa- 
crifice must precede this : life may be long a desert ere 
the fire that made it so is quenched. At last, in the 
midst of this sad indecision, Corinne received a letter from 
Oswald, telling her that his regiment would embark in six 
weeks, and that, as its colonel, he could not profit by this 
delay to visit Venice without injuring his reputation. 
There was but just time for Corinne to reach England, ere 
he must leave it, perhaps for ever. This thought decided 
her ; she was not ignorant of her own rashness ; she judged 
herself more severely than any one else could. Pity her, 
then ! What woman has a right to "^ cast the first stone'* 
at the unfortunate sister, who justifies not her fault, hopes 
for no pleasure, but flies from one misfortune to another, as 
if driven on by persecuting spirits ? Her letter to Castel 
Forte thus concludes : — "^ Adieu, my faithful protector ! 
Adieu, my friends in Rome ! with whom I passed such 
joyous, easy days. It is done — all is over. Fate has 
stricken me. I feel the wound is mortal. I' struggle stiU; 
but soon shall fall. I must see him again. I am not an- 
swerable for myself. A storm is in my breast such as I 
cannot govern ; but I draw near the term at which all 
will cease. This is the last act of my history : it will end 
in penitence and death. Oh, wild confusion of the human 
heart ! Even now, while I am obeying the will of passion, 
I see the shades of evening in the distance, I hear a voice 
divine that whispers me, — ' Still these fond agitations, 
hapless wretch ! the abode of endless rest awaits thee.* 
Oh God ! grant me the presence of mine Oswald once more, 
but onelast moment ! The very memory of his features 
now is darkened by despair ; but is there not something 
heavenly in his look ? Did not the air become more pure,^ 

corinne; or italy. !^1S 

more brilliant, as he approached ? You, my friend, have 
seen him with me, have witnessed his kind cares, and 
the respect with which he inspired others for the woman 
of his choice. How can I Hve without him? Pardon my 
ingratitude : ought 1 thus to requite thy disinterested con- 
stancy ? But I am no longer worthy any blessing ; and 
might pass for insane, had I not still the miserable con- 
sciousness of mine own madness. Farewell, then — yes, 


How pitiable is the feeling, delicate woman, who commits 
a great imprudence for a man whose love she know sin- 
ferior to her own J She has but herself to be her support. 
If she has risked repose and character to do some signa;l 
service for her idol, she may be envied. Sweet is the 
self-devotion that braves all danger to save a life that is 
dear to us, or solace the distress which rends a heart re- 
sponsive to our own. But thus to travel unknown lands, 
to arrive without being expected, to blush before the one 
beloved, for the unasked proof thus given of his power, — 
painful degradation ! What woudl it be if we thus in- 
volved the happiness of others, and outraged our duty to 
more sacred , bonds ? Corinne was free. She sacrificed 
but her own peace and glory. Her conduct was irrational, 
indeed, but it could overcloud no destiny save hers.* 

On landing in England, Corinne learnt from the papers 
that Lord Nevil's departure was still delayed. She saw 
no society in London except the family of a banker, to 
whom she had been recommended tinder a false name. 
He was interested in her at first sight, and enjoined his 
"wife and daughter to pay her all the attentions in their 
power. She fell dangerously ill, and, for a fortnight, hel" 
new friends watched ovei her with the most tender care. 

• The Corinnes of this world care little|how they pain the Cast6l Fortes. 
The mere esteem of such a man would have been worth even the love of twenty 
Oswalds.— T». 



She heard that Lord Nevil was in Scotland, but must 
shortly rejoin his regiment in London. She knew not 
how to announce herself, as she had not written to him 
respecting her intentions — indeed Oswald had received 
no letter from her for three months. He mentally accused 
her of infidehtyj as if he had any right to complain. On 
his return to town he went first to his agents, where he 
hoped to find letters from Italy: there were none; and, as 
he was musing over this silence, he encountered Mr. 
Edgarmond, who asked him for news of Corinne. " I hear 
nothing of her," he replied, irritably. — " That I can 
easily understand," added Edgarmond : " these Italians 
always forget a foreigner, once out of sight : one ought 
never to heed it; they would be too deHghtful if they 
united constancy with genius : it is but fair that our own 
women should have some advantage ! " He squeezed 
Oswald's hand as he said this, and took leave, as he was just 
starting for Wales ; but his few words had pierced their 
hearer's heart. — " I am wrong," he said, *^ to wish she 
should regret me, since I cannot constitute her happiness ; 
but so soon to forget ! This blights the past as well as the 

Despite his father's will he had resolved not to see Lucy 
more; and even scorned himself for the impression she had 
made on him. Condemned as he was to defeat the hopes of 
Corinne, he felt that, at least, he ought to preserve his 
heart's faith inviolately hers : no duty urged him to for- 
feit that. He renewed his solicitations in her cause, by 
letters to Lady Edgarmond, who did not even deign to 
answer them : meanwhile Mr. Dickson assured him that 
the only way of melting her to his wishes would be — ■ 
marrying her daughter ; whose establishment, she feared, 
Corinne might frustrate, if she resumed her name, and 
was received by her family. Fate had hitherto spared her 
the pang of suspecting Oswald's interest in her sister. 
Never was she herself more worthy of him than now. 
During her illness, the candid, simple beings by whom 
she was surrounded had given her a sincere taste for 
English habits and manners. The few persons she saw 
were any thing but distinguishedj yet possessed an estimable 


strength and justice of mind. Their affection for her was 
less professing than that to which she had been accustomed, 
but evinced with every opportunity by fresh good offices. 
The austerity of Lady Edgarmond, the tedium of a small 
country town, had cruelly misled her, as to the kindness, 
the true nobility to be found in the country she had aban- 
doned : unluckily she now became attached to it under 
such circumstances that it would have been better for her 
own peace had she never been untaught her dislike. 


The banker's family, who were for ever studying how to 
prove their friendship, pressed Corinne to see Mrs. Siddons 
perform Isabella, in the Fatal Marriage, one of the char- 
acters in which that great actress best displayed her ad- 
mirable genius. Corinne refused for some time : at last 
she remembered that Lord Nevil had often compared her 
manner of recitation with that of Mrs. Siddons ; she was 
therefore anxious to see her, and, thickly veiled, went to 
a small box, whence she could see all, herself unseen. 
She knew not if Oswald was in London, but feared to be 
recognised by any one who might have met her in Italy. 
The commanding beauty and deep sensibility of the heroine 
so rivetted her attention, that, during the earliest acts, her 
eyes were never turned from the stage. 

English declamation is better calculated than any other 
to touch the soul, especially when such fine talents give it 
all its power and originality. It is less artificial, less con- 
ventional, than that of France. The impressions producetl 
are more immediate — for thus would true despair express 
itself: the plots and versification of English dramas too 
are less remote from real life, and their effect more heart- 
rending. It requires far higher genius to become a great actor 
in France, so little liberty being left to individual manner, 
so much influence attached to general rules (4) ; but in 
England you may risk any thing, if inspired by nature. 



The long groans that appear ridiculous if described, make 
those shudder who hear them. Mrs. Siddons, the most 
nobly mannered woman who ever adorned a theatre, lost 
none of her dignity by prostrating herself on the earth. 
There is no action but may become graceful, if prompted 
by an impulse, which rises from the depths of the breast, 
and lords it over the mind which conceives it, still more 
than over its witnesses. Various nations have their 
different styles of tragic acting, but the expression of 
grief is understood from one end of the world to the other; 
and, from the savage to the king, there is some similarity 
between all men while they are really suffering. 

Between the fourth and fifth acts, Corinne observed 
that all eyes were turned towards a box, in which she be- 
held Lady Edgarmond and her daughter : she could not 
doubt that it was Lucy, much as the last seven years had 
embellished her form. The death of a rich relation had 
obliged Lady Edgarmond to visit London, and settle the 
succession of his fortune. Lucy was more dressed than 
usual*; and it was long since so beauteous a girl had been 
seen, even in England, where the women are so ^lovely. 
Corinne felt a melancholy surprise: she thought it impossible 
for Oswald to resist that countenance. On comparing herself 
with her sister she was so conscious of her own inferiority, 
that she exaggerated (if such exaggeration be possible) the 
charm of that fair complexion, those golden curls, and in- 
nocent blue eyes — that image of life's spring ! She felt 
almost degraded in setting her own mental acquirements in 
competition with gifts thus lavished by Heaven itself. 
Suddenly, in an opposite box, she perceived Lord Nevil, 
whose gaze was fixed on Lucy. What a moment for 
Corinne ! She once more beheld that face, for which she 
had so long searched her memory every instant, as if the 
image could be effaced — she beheld it again — absorbed 
by the beauty of another. Oswald could not guess the 
presence of Corinne ; but if his eyes had even wandered 

• If Englishwomen ever do go into jmblic immediately after the death of a 
' near relation, it must be in deep mourning. Corinne saw these wonders very 
jplainly, considering that Lady Edgarmond and Lucy sat on the same side of the 
nouse with herself; which must have been the case, by her calhng Oswald's an 
.opposite box, — Ta. 


towards her^ she mighty from such a chance, have drawn 
a happy omen. 

Mrs. Siddons re-appeared, and Lord Nevil looked but 
on her. Corinne breathed again, trusting that mere cu- 
riosity had drawn his glance towards Lucy. The tragedy 
became every moment more affecting ; and the fair girl 
was bathed in tears, which she strove to conceal, by re- 
tiring to the back of her box. Nevil noticed this with 
increased interest. At last the dreadful instant came 
when Isabella, laughing at the fruitless efforts of those 
who would restrain her, stabs herself to the heart. That 
despairing laugh is the most difficult and powerful effect 
which tragic acting can produce ; its bitter irony moves 
one to more than tears. How terrible must be the suffer- 
ing that inspires so barbarous a joy, and, in the sight of 
our own blood, feels the ferocious pleasure that one might 
experience when taking full revenge upon some savage 
foe. It was evident that Lucy's agitation had alarmed 
her mother, who turned anxiously towards her. Oswald 
rose, as if he would have flown to them ; but he soon 
reseated himself, and Corinne felt some rehef; yet she 
sighed, — ^' My sister Lucy, once so dear to me, has a 
feeling heart ; why should I then wish to deprive her of a 
blessing she may enjoy without impediment, without any 
sacrifice on Oswald's part } " 

When the play concluded, Corinne stayed until the 
parties who were leaving the house had gone, that she 
might avoid recognition : she concealed herself near the 
door of her box, where she could see what passed near 
her. As soon as Lucy came out, a crowd assembled to 
look on her ; and exclamations in praise of her beauty were 
heard from all sides, which greatly embarrassed her : the 
infirm Lady Edgarmond was ill able to brave the throng, 
in spite the cares of her child, and the politeness shown 
them both ; but they knew no one, therefore no gentleman 
dared accost them. Lord Nevil, seeing their situation, 
hastened to offer each an arm. Lucy, blushing and 
downcast, availed herself of this attention. They passed 
close by Corinne, whom Oswald little suspected of wit- 
nessing a sight so painful : he was proud of thus escort- 

318 comnne; or italy. 

ing one of the handsomest girls in England through the 
numerous admirers who followed her steps.* 


CoRiNNE returned to her dwelling in cruel disquiet ; not 
knowing what steps to take, how to apprise Nevil of her 
arrival, nor what to say in defence of her motives ; for 
every instant decreased her confidence in his love : some- 
times it seemed as if the man she sought to see again were 
some passionately heloved stranger, who could not even 
recognise her. She sent to his house the next evening, 
and was informed that he had gone to Lady Edgarmond's ; 
the same answer was brought her on the following day, 
with tidings that her Ladyship was ill, and would return 
to Northumberland on her recovery. Corinne waited 
for her removal ere she let Oswald know she was in Eng- 
land. Every evening she walked by her stepmother's 
residence, and saw his carriage at its door. An in- 
expressible oppression seized on her heart; yet she daily 
persevered, and daily received the same shock. She erred, 
however, in supposing that Oswald was there as the suitor 
of Lucy. 

As he led Lady Edgarmond to her carriage, after th^ 
play, she told him that Corinne was concerned in the 
will of their late kinsman ; and begged that he would 
write to Italy on the arrangements made in this affair. 
As Oswald promised to call, he fancied he felt the 
hand of Lucy tremble. Corinne's silence persuaded 
him that he was no longer dear to her; and the emo- 
tion of this young girl gave him the idea that she was 
interested in him. Yet he thought not of breaking his 

* If so scrupulous a person as Lady Edgarmond would take her daughter to 
a theatre without male protection, she could not, fortunately, have been ex- 
posed to all these annoyances. Our private boxes are ie'w. Each side has its 
own passage and staircase. Oswald might make his way from one to the other ; 
but if all the individuals on one side left the house as soon as the tragedy con- 
eluded, they could not, after quitting their boxes, be thus seen by the parties 
opposite. 1 have vainly endeavoured to clear this obscurity, — Tu.' 

corinne; or Italy. ' 31 9 

promise to Corinne : the ring she held was a pledge that 
he would never marry another without her consent. He 
sought her stepmother next day, merely on her account ; 
but Lady Edgarmond was so ill, and her daughter so un- 
easy at finding herself in London without another relative 
near her, without even knowing to what physician she 
should apply, that, in duty to the friends of his father, 
Oswald felt he ought to devote his time to their service. 
The cold, proud Lady Edgarmond had never softened so 
much as she did now; letting him visit her every day 
without his having said a word that could be construed 
into a proposal for her daughter, whose beauty, rank, and 
fortune rendered her one of the first matches in England. 
Since her appearance in public, her address had been 
eagerly enquired, and her door besieged by the nobility; 
yet her mother went no where, — received no one but Lord 
Nevil. Could he avoid feeling flattered by this silent and 
delicate generosity, which trusted him without conditions, 
without complaint? yet every time he went did he fear 
that his presence would be interpreted into an engagement. 
He would have ceased to go thither as soon as Corinne*s 
business was settled ; but that Lady Edgarmond under- 
went a relapse, more dangerous than her first attack ; and 
had she died, Lucy would have had no friend beside her 
but himself. She had never breathed a word that could 
assure him of her preference ; yet he fancied he detected 
Tt in the light but sudden changes of her cheek, the abrupt 
fall of her lashes, and the rapidity of her breathing. He stu- 
died her young heart with tender interest ; and her reserve 
left him always uncertain as to the nature of her sen- 
timents. The highest eloquence of passion cannot entirely 
satisfy the fancy : we desire something beyond it ; and 
not finding that, must either cool or sate ; while the faint 
light which we perceive through clouds, long keeps our 
curiosity in suspense, and seems to promise a whole future 
of new discoveries : this expectation is never gratified ; 
for when we know what all this mystery hid, its charm 
is gone, and we awake to regret the candid impulses of a 
more animated character. How then can we prolong the 
heart's enchantment, since doubt and confidence, rapture 


and misery, alike destroy it in the end ? These heavenly 
joys belong not to our fate; they never cross our path, 
save to remind us of our immortal origin and hopes. 

Lady Edgarmond was better ; and talked of departing, 
in two days, for her estate in Scotland, near that of Lord 
Nevil, whither he had purposed going before the embark- 
ation of his regiment: she anticipated his proposing to 
accompany her, but he said nothing. Lucy gazed on him 
in silence for a moment, then hastily rose, and went to 
the window : on some pretext Nevil shortly followed her, 
and fancied that her lids were wet with tears : he sighed, 
and the forgetfulness of which he had accused Corinne 
returning to his memory, he asked himself whether this 
young creature might not prove more capable of constant 
love ? He wished to atone for the pain he had inflicted. 
It is delightful to rekindle smiles on a countenance so 
nearly infantine. Grief is out of place, where even re- 
flection has yet left no trace. There was to be a review 
in Hyde Park on the morrow; he therefore entreated 
Lady Edgarmond to drive there with her daughter, and 
afterwards permit his taking a ride with Lucy beside her 
carriage. Miss Edgarmond had once said that she greatly 
wished to mount a horse, and looked at her mother with 
appealing submission : after a little deliberation, the" in- 
valid held out her wasting hand to Oswald, saying, — ^^If 
you request it, my Lord, I consent." These words so alarmed 
him, that he would have abandoned his own proposal ; but 
that Lucy, with a vivacity she had never before betrayed, 
took her mother's hand, and kissed it gratefully. He had 
not the courage to deprive an innocent being, who led so 
lonely a hfe, of an amusement she so much desired. 


For a fortnight Corinne had endured the severest anxiety ; 
every morning she hesitated whether she should write to 
Oswald ; every evening she had the inexpressible grief of 

cokinne; or italy. S21 

knowing that he was with Lucy. Her sufferings made 
her daily more timid : she blushed to think that he 
might not approve the step she had taken. '' Perhaps/' 
she often said, "^ all thought of Italy is banished from 
his breast : he no longer needs in woman a gifted mind 
or an impassioned heart ; all that can please him now 
is the angelic beauty of sixteen, the fresh and diffident 
soul that consecrates to him its first emotions." Her 
imagination was so stricken with the advantages of her 
young sister that she was abashed, disarmed, depreciatingly 
disgusted with herself. Though not yet eight-and-twenty, 
she had already reached that era when women sadly dis- 
trust their power to please. Her pride and jealousy con- 
tending, made her defer fronv day to day the dreaded yet 
desired moment of her meeting with Oswald. She learnt 
that his regiment would be reviewed, and resolved on being 
present. She thought it probable that Lucy would be 
there: if so, she would trust her own eyes to judge the 
state of Nevil's heart. At first she thought of dressing 
herself with care, and suddenly appearing before him ; but 
at her toilet, her black hair, her skin slightly embrowned by 
the Italian sun, her prominent features, all discouraged her. 
She remembered the ethereal aspect of her sister; and, 
throwing aside her rich array, assumed a black Venetian 
garb, covered her head and figure with the mantle worn in 
that country, and threw herself into a coach. In Hyde 
Park she found groups of gentlemen, attired with simple 
elegance, escorting their fair and modest ladies. The 
virtues proper to each sex seemed thus to meet. Scarcely 
was she there ere she beheld Oswald at the head of his 
corps : its men looked up to him with confidence and de- 
votion.* The uniform lent him a more imposing air than 
usual, and he reined his charger with perfectly graceful 
dexterity. The band played pieces of music at once proud 
and sweet, which seemed nobly enjoining the sacrifice of 
life : among them *' God save the King," so dear to English 
hearts ; and Corinne exclaimed, " Respected land ! which 
ought to be my own ! why did I ever leave thee } What 

♦ What for ? He had been very little with them, 'and never on service. — 


matters more or less of personal fame, amid so much true 
merit ? and what glory could equal that of being called 
Lord Nevil's worthy wife ? " 

The martial instruments recalled to her mind the perils 
he must brave so soon. Unseen by him she gazed through 
her tears, sighing, '' Oh, may he live, though it be not for 
me ! My God ! it is Oswald only I implore thee to 
preserve ! " At this moment Lady Edgarmond's carriage 
drove up. Nevil bowed respectfully, and lowered the point 
of his sword. No one who looked on Lucy but admired 
her : Oswald's glances pierced the heart of Corinne : she 
knew their meaning well, for such had once been bent on 
her. The horses he had lent to Lady Edgarmond passed 
to and fro with exquisite speed, while the equipage of 
Corinne was drawn after these flying coursers almost as 
slowly as a hearse. " It was not thus," she thought, 
*^ that I approached the Capitol : no ; he has dashed me 
from my car of triumph into an abyss of misery. I love 
him, and the joys of life are lost. I love him, and the 
gifts of nature fade. Pardon him, oh, my God ! when I 
am gone." Oswald was now close to her vehicle. The 
Italian dress caught his eye, and he rode round, in hopes 
of beholding the face of this unknown. Her heart beat 
violently ; and all her fear was that she should faint and 
be discovered ; but she restrained her feelings ; and Lord 
Nevil relinquished the idea which beset him. When the 
review was over, to avoid again attracting his attention, she 
alighted, and retired behind the trees, so as not to be observed. 
Oswald then went up to Lady Edgarmond, and showed 
her a very gentle horse, which his servants had brought 
thither for Lucy * : her mother bade him be very careful 
of her. He dismounted, and, hat in hand, conversed 
through the carriage door with so feeling an expression, 
that Corinne could attribute this regard for the mother to 
nothing less than an attachment for the daughter. Lucy 
left the carriage: a riding habit charmingly defined the 
elegant outline of her figure : she wore a black hat with 

• The timid Lucy must have learned to ride; or, if this was her d«fbut, I 
trust her hastily created riding habit paid better duty thaii her ivhiic feathers to 
the relation whose fortune she had just inherited. — Tb. 

oorinne; or italv. S2S 

white plumes, — her fair silken locks floating airily about 
her smiling face. Oswald placed his hand as her step : 
she had expected this service from a domestic, and blushed 
at receiving it from him ; but he insisted, and, at last, she 
set her little foot in his hand, then sprung so lightly to 
her saddle, that she seemed one of those sylphid shapes 
which fancy paints in colours so delicate. She set off at a 
ijallop, Oswald followed, never losing sight of her : once the 
horse made a false step : he instantly checked it, examining 
the bit and bridle with the most kind solicitude. Shortly 
afterwards the animal ran away. Oswald turned pale as 
death, spurring his own steed to an incredible fleetness ; in 
a second he overtook that of Luey, leaped from his seat^ 
and threw himself before her. She shuddered in her turn 
lest she should harm him ; but with one hand he seized her 
rein, supporting her with the other, as she gently leant 
against him. 

What more needed Corinne to convince her of Oswald's 
love for Lucy ? Did she not see all the signs of interest 
which formerly he lavished on herself? Nay, to her 
eternal despair, did she not read in his eyes a more re- 
vering deference than he had ever shown to her ? Twice 
she drew the ring from her finger, and was ready to break 
through the crowd, that she might throw it at his feet: the 
hope of dying in this effort encouraged her resolution ; but 
where is the woman, even born beneath a southern sky, 
who does not tremble at attracting the attention of a 
crowd ? She was returning to her coach ; and, as she crosse<l 
a somewhat deserted walk, Oswald again noticed the black 
figure he before had seen ; and it now made a stronger 
impression on him than at first : he attributed his emotion 
to remorse, at having, for the first time, felt his heart 
faithless to the image of Corinne ; yet he resolved on start- 
ing for Scotland, as his regiment was not to embark foi 
some time. 

Y 2 



From this moment Corinne's reason was affected, and her 
strength decayed. She began a letter to Lord Nevil, full 
of bitter upbraidings, and then tore it up. " What avail 
reproaches ? " she thought : "^ could love be the most pure, 
most generous of our sentiments, if it were not involuntary ? 
Another face, another voice^ command the secret of his 
heart : all is said that can be said." She began a 
new letter, depicting the monotony he would find in an 
union with Lucy ; essayed to prove that without a perfect 
harmony of soul and mind no happiness could last ; but 
she destroyed this paper more hastily than the other. 
'^ If he already knows not my opinions, I cannot teach 
him now," she said ; " besides, ought I to speak thus of 
my sister } is she so greatly my inferior as I think ? and, 
if she be, is it for me, who, like a mother, pressed her in 
childhood to my heart, to point out her deficiencies ? no, 
no ! we must not thus value our own inclinations above all 
price. This life, full as it is of wishes, must have end ; 
and even before death meditation may wean us from its 
selfishness." Once more she resumed her pen, to tell but 
of her misery ; yet, in expressing it, she felt such pity for 
herself, that her tears flowed over every ^yord. " No," 
she said again, " I cannot send this : if he resisted it, I 
should hate him ; if he yielded, how know I but it would 
be by a sacrifice ? even after which he would be haunted 
by the memory of another. I had better see him, speak 
with him, and return his ring." She folded it in paper, on 
which she only wrote, '' You are free;" and, putting it in 
her bosom, awaited the evening ere she could approach. 
In open day she would have blushed before all she met ; 
and yet she sought to anticipate the moment of his visit to 
Lady Edgarmond. At six o'clock, therefore, she set forth, 
trembling like a condemned criminal, — we so much fear 
those we love, when once our confidence is lost. The ob- 
ject of a passionate affection is, in the eyes of woman. 

corinne; or italy. 325 

either her surest protector or most dreaded master. Co- 
rinne stopped her equipage at Lord Nevil's door, and in 
a hesitating voice asked the porter if he was at home ; 
but the man replied, — " My Lord set out for Scotland half 
an hour ago, madam." This intelligence pressed heavily 
on her heart : she had shrunk from the thought of meeting 
Oswald, but her soul had surmounted that inexpressible 
emotion. The effort was made : she believed herself about 
to hear his voice, and now must take some new resolution 
ere she could regain it ; wait some days longer, and stoop 
to one step more. Yet, at all hazards, she must see him 
again ; and the next day she departed for Scotland. 


Ere quitting London, Nevil again called on his agents; 
and, on finding no letter from Corinne, bitterly asked 
himself if he ought to give up the certainty of permanent 
domestic peace for one who perhaps no longer remembered 
him. Yet he decided on writing once more, to enquire 
the cause of this silence, and assure her, that, till she sent 
back his ring, he would never be the husband of another. 
He completed his journey in a very gloomy mood, loving 
Lucy almost unconsciously, for he had, as yet, scarcely 
heard her speak twenty words — yet regretting Corinne, 
and the circumstances which separated him from her, by 
fits yielding to the innocent beauty of the one, and re- 
tracing the brilliant grace or sublime eloquence of the 
other. Had he but known that Corinne loved him better 
than ever, that she had quitted every thing to follow him, 
he would never have seen Lucy more ; but he believed him- 
self forgotten, and told his heart that a cool manner might 
oft conceal deep feelings. He was deceived. Impassioned 
spirits must betray themselves a thousand ways : that 
which can always be controlled must needs be weak. 

Another event added to his interest in Lucy. In re- 
turning to his estate he passed so near her mother's, that 
Y 3 



curiosity urged him to visit it. He asked to be shown the 
room in which Miss Edgarmond usually studied : it was 
filled by remembrances of the time his father had passed 
there during his own absence in France. On the spot 
v.rhere^ a few months before his death, the late Lord Nevil 
had given her lessons_, Lucy had erected a marble pedestal^ 
on which was graven, " To the memory of my second 
father." A book lay on the table. Oswald opened it, and 
found a collection of his father's thoughts, who in the first 
page had written, " To her who has solaced me in my 
sorrows ,• the maid whose angelic soul will constitute the 
glory and happiness of her husband." With what emotion 
Oswald read these lines ! in which the opinion of the re- 
vered dead was so warmly expressed. He interpreted Lucy's 
silence on this subject into a delicacy which feared to 
extort his vows by any idea of duty. '^'^ It was she, then," 
He cried, "^ who softened the pangs I dealt him ; and shall 
I desert her while her mother is dying, and she has no 
comforter but myself ? Ah, Corinne ! brilliant and admired 
as thou art, thou dost not, like Lucy, stand in need of one 
devoted friend ! " Alas ! she was no longer brilliant, no 
longer admired, wandering from town to town, without 
overtaking the being for whom she had lost all, and whom 
she could not forget. She was taken ill at an inn half way 
between London and Edinburgh, and, in spite of all her 
efforts, unable to continue her journey. She often thought, 
during her long nights of suffering, that if she died there 
none but Theresina would know the name to inscribe upon 
her tomb. What a changed fate for the woman who could 
not leave her house in Italy without being followed by a 
host of worshippers ! Why should one single feeling thus 
despoil a whole life } After a week of intense agony, she 
resumed her route : so many painful fears mingled with 
the hope of seeing Oswald, that her expectation was but a 
sad anxiety. She designed to rest a few hours on her 
father's land,x where his tomb had been erected, never 
having been there since ; indeed, she only spent one month 
on this estate with Lord Edgarmond, the happiest portion 
of her stay in England.* These recollections inspired her 

* That is, while she was in Scotland. Of this tour she bad not apprised Ost 
wald, as it appears to have been pleasani, — Tn. 


with a wish to revisit their scene. She knew not that her 
stepmother was there already. Some miles from the 
house, perceiving that a carriage had been overturned, she 
stopped her own, and saw an old gentleman extricated from 
that which had broken down, much alarmed by the shock. 
Corinne hurried to his assistance, and offered him a share 
of her conveyance to the neighbouring town : he accepted 
it gratefully, announcing himself as Mr. Dickson : she re- 
membered that Nevil had often mentioned that name, and 
directed the conversation to the only subject which inter- 
ested her in life. Mr. Dickson was the most willing gossip 
in the world ; and ignorant who his companion was, be- 
lieved her an English lady, with no private interest in the 
questions she asked, therefore told her all he knew most 
minutely: her attentions had conciliated him ; and, in return^ 
he trusted that his confidence might entertain her. He 
described how he had informed Lord Nevil of his parent's 
wishes, and repeated an extract from the late lord's letter, 
often exclaiming, " He expressly forbade Oswald's mar- 
riage with this Italian, — and they cannot brave his will 
without insulting his memory." Mr. Dickson added, that 
Oswald loved Lucy, was beloved by her ; that her mother 
strongly desired their union, but that this foreign engage- 
ment prevented it. " How ! " said Corinne, striving to 
disguise her agitation : " do you think that the sole barrier 
to his happiness with Miss Edgarmond ? " — "I am sure 
of it," he answered, delighted with her enquiries. " It is 
but three days since Lord Nevil said to me, ' If I were 
free, I would marry Lucy.' " — " If he were free ! " sighed 
Corinne. At that moment the carriage stopped at the 
hotel to which she had promised Mr. Dickson her escort. 
He thanked her, and begged to know where he might see 
her again. She wrung his hand, without power to speak, 
and left him. Late as it was, she resolved that evening to 
visit the grave of her father. The disorder of her mind 
rendered this sacred pilgrimage more necessary than ever. 

T 4 

'328 corinne; or italy. 


Lady Edgarmond had been two days on her estate^ where^ 
that nighty she had invited all her neighbours and tenants ; 
and there was Oswald with Lucy, when Corinne arrived. 
She saw many carriages in the avenue ; and alighted on 
the spot where her father had once treated her with such 
tenderness. What a contrast between those days, when 
she had thought herself so unfortunate, and her present 
situation ! Thus are we punished for our fancied woes, by 
real calamities, which but too well teach us what true 
sorrow means. Corinne bade her servant ask the cause of 
all this light and bustle. A domestic replied, '' Lady Ed- 
garmond gives a ball to-night ; which my master. Lord 
Nevil, has opened with the heiress." Corinne shuddered ; 
but a painful curiosity prompted her to approach the place 
where so much misery threatened her ; and motioning for 
her people to withdraw, she entered the open gates alone : 
the obscurity permitted her to walk the park unseen. It 
was ten o'clock. Oswald had been Lucy's partner in those 
English country dances, which they recommence five or six 
times in the evening, — the same gentleman always dancing 
with the same lady,- and the greatest gravity sometimes 
reigning over this party of pleasure.* Lucy danced nobly, 
but without vivacity. The feeling which absorbed her 
added to her natural seriousness : as the whole county 
was inquisitive to know whether she loved Oswald, the 
unusually observant looks she met prevented her ever 
raising her eyes to his ; and her embarrassment was such, 
that she could scarcely hear or see any thing. This deeply 
affected him at first ; but as it never varied, he soon began 
to weary a little ; and compared this long range of men and 
women, and their monotonous music, with the animated 
airs and graceful dances of Italy. These reflections plunged 
him into a reverie; and Corinne might yet have tasted 

* Was this ever the case ? Are these facts ? — Tr. 

cobinne; or italy. 52^ 

some moments of happiness could she have guessed his 
thoughts ; hut, Hke a stranger on her paternal soil;, alone, 
though so near the man she had hoped to call her hushand, 
she roved at hazard through the dark walks of grounds she 
once might have deemed her own. The earth seemed fail- 
ing heneath her feet ; and the fever of despair alone sup- 
plied her with strength : perhaps she might meet Oswald 
in the garden, she thought, though scarce Jcnowing what 
she now desired. 

The mansion was built on an eminence ; a river ran at 
its base ; there were many trees on one bank ; the other was 
formed of rocks, covered with briars. Corinne drew near 
the water, whose murmur blended with the distant music : 
the gay lamps were reflected on its surface ; while the pale 
light of the moon alone irradiated the wilds on the oppo- 
site side. She thought of Hamlet, in which a spectre 
wanders round the festal palace. One step, and this for- 
saken woman might have found eternal oblivion. '^ To- 
morrow," she cried, " when he strays here with a band of 
joyous friends, if his triumphant steps encountered the 
remains of her who was once so dear to him, would he not 
suffer something like what I bear now } would not his 
grief avenge me ? yet, no, no ! it is not vengeance I would 
seek in death, only repose." Silently she contemplated this 
stream, flowing in rapid regularity : fair nature ! better 
ordered than the human soul. She remembered the day 
on which Nevil had saved the drowning man. " How 
good he was then ! " she wept forth, '' and may be still : 
why blame him for my woes ? he may not guess them — 

perhaps if he could see me " She determined, in the 

midst of this fete, to demand a moment's interview with 
Lord Nevil; and walked towards the house, under the 
impulse of a newly adopted decision, which succeeds to 
long uncertainty ; but, as she approached it, such a tremor 
seized her, that she was obliged to sit down on a stone 
bench which faced the windows. The throng of rustics, 
assembled to look in upon the dancers, prevented her being 
seen. Oswald, at this moment, came to a balcony, to 
breathe the fresh evening air. Some roses that grew there 
reminded him of Corinne's favourite perfume, and he 



Started. This long entertainment tired him, accustomed as 
he had been to her good taste and intelligence ; and he felt 
that it was only in domestic life he could find pleasure 
with such a companion as Lucy. All that in the least 
degree belonged to the world of poetry and the fine arts 
bade him regret Corinne. While he was in this mood, a 
fellow-guest joined him, and his adorer once more heard 
him speak. What inexplicable sensations are awakened 
by the voice we love ! What a confusion of softness 
and of dread ! There are impressions of such force, that 
our poor feeble nature is terrified at itself, while we expe-^ 
rience them. 

'' Don't you think this a charming ball ? " asked the 
gentleman. — "Yes," returned Oswald, abstractedly, "yes, 
indeed ! " and he sighed. That sigh, that melancholy tone, 
thrilled Corinne's heart with joy. She thought herself 
secure of regaining his, of again being understood by 
him, and rose, precipitately, to bid a servant call Lord 
Nevil : had she obeyed her inclination, how different had 
been the destiny of both ! But at that instant Lucy 
came to the window ; and seeing through the darkness of 
the garden a female simply drest in white, her curiosity 
was kindled. She leant forward, and gazed attentively, 
believing that she recognised the features of her sister, 
who, she thought, had been for seven years dead. The 
terror this sight caused her was so great that she fainted. 
Every one hastened to her aid : Corinne ' could find no 
servant to bear her message, and withdrew into deeper 
shade, to avoid remark. 

Lucy dared not disclose what had alarmed her ; but as 
her mother had, from infancy, instilled into her mind the 
strongest sense of devotion, she was persuaded that the 
image of her sister had appeared, gliding before her to 
their father's tomb, as if to reproach her for holding a fete 
in that scene ere she had fulfilled her sacred duty to his 
honoured dust : as soon as she was secure from observation, 
she left the ball. Corinne, astonished at seeing her alone 
in the garden, imagined that Oswald soon would follow her, 
and that perhaps he had besought a private meeting to ob- 
tain her leave for naming his suit to her mother. This 


thought kept her motionless ; but she saw that Lucy bent 
her steps towards a small grove, which, she well knew, must 
lead to Lord Edgarmond's grave ; and, accusing herself of 
not having earlier borne thither her own regrets, followed 
her sister at some distance, unseen. She soon perceived 
the black sarcophagus raised over the remains of their pa- 
rent. Filial tenderness overpowered her : she supported 
herself against a tree. Lucy also paused, and bent her 
head respectfully. Corinne was ready to discover herself, 
and, in their father's name, demand her rank and her be- 
trothed ; but the fair girl made a few hurried steps towards 
the tomb, and the victim's courage failed. 

There is such timidity, even in the most impetuous 
female heart, that a trifle will restrain as a trifle can excite 
it. Lucy knelt, removed the garland which had bound her 
hair, and raised her eyes to heaven with an angelic appeal : 
her face was softly illumined by the moonbeams, and Co- 
rinne's heart melted with the purest generosity. She con- 
templated the chaste and pious expression of that almost 
childish visage, and remembered how she had watched over 
it in infancy : her own youth was waning, while Lucy had 
before her a long futurity, that ought not to be troubled by 
any recollections which she might shame at confessing, 
either before the world or to her own conscience. ^' If I 
accost her," thought Corinne, " that soul, so peaceful now, 
will be disturbed, perhaps, for ever. I have already borne 
80 much, that I can suffer on ; but the innocent Lucy 
would pass, in a moment, from perfect calm to the most 
cruel agitation. Can I, who have lulled her to sleep on my 
bosom, hurl her into the ocean of grief ?" Love still com- 
bated this disinterested elevation of mind, when Lucy said 
aloud, " Pray for me, oh my father !" Corinne sunk on 
her knees, and mutely besought a paternal benediction on 
them both, with tears more stainless than those of love. 
Lucy audibly continued, " Dear sister, intercede for me in 
heaven ! Friend of my childhood, protect me now ! " 
How Corinne's bosom yearned towards her, as Lucy, 
with added fervour, resumed, — " Pardon me, father, a 
brief forgetfulness, caused by the sentiment yourself com- 
manded ! I am notj sure, to blame for loving him you 


corinne; or italt. 

chose to be my husband. Achieve your work ! Inspire him 
to select me as the partner of his life ! I shall never be 
happy^ save with him ; but my fluttering heart shall not 
betray its secret.* Oh, my God ! My father, console your 
child ! render her worthy the esteem of Oswald ! " — "Yes," 
whispered Corinne, '' kind father, grant her prayer, and 
give your other child a peaceful grave ! " Thus solemnly 
concluding the greatest effort of which her soul was capable, 
she took from her breast the paper which contained Os- 
wald's ring, and rapidly withdrew. She felt that in 
sending this, without letting him know where she was, she 
should break all their ties, and yield him to her sister. In 
the presence of that tomb, she had been more conscious 
than ever of the obstacles which separated them : her own 
father, as well as Oswald's, seemed to condemn their love. 
Lucy appeared deserving of him; and Corinne, at least for 
the moment, was proud to sacrifice herself, that he might 
live at peace with his country, his family, and his own 
heart. The music which she heard from the house sus- 
tained her firmness : she saw an old blind man, seated at 
the foot of a tree to listen, and begged he would present 
her letter to one of the servants ; thus she escaped the risk 
of Oswald's discovering who had brought it ; for no one 
could have seen her give the paper, without being assured 
tliat it contained the fate of her whole life. Her looks, her 
shaking hand, her hollow voice, bespoke one of those awful 
moments, when destiny over-rules us, and we act but as the 
slaves of that fatality which so long pursued us. Corinne 
watched the old man, led by his faithful dog, give her 
letter to a servant of Nevil's, who, by chance, was carrying 
others into the house. All things conspired to banish her 
last hope : she made a few steps towards the gate, turning 
her head to mark the servant's entrance. When she no 
longer saw him — when she was on the high road, the 
lights and music lost, a deathlike damp rose to her brow, 
a chill ran through her frame ; she tottered on, but nature 
refused the task, and she fell senseless by the way. 

* Suppose Oswald had overheard — or seen her kneeling on the bare earth in 
a balUdress ! She had been two days near her father's tomb. Did she require 
ghosting into piety ? _ Tb. 





Count d'Erfeuil having passed some time in Switzer- 
land, wearied of nature 'mid the Alps, as he had tired of 
the arts at Rome, and suddenly resolved to visit England. 
He had heard that he should find much depth of thought 
there, and woke one morning to the conviction of that 
being the very thing he wished to meet. This third 
search after pleasure had succeeded no better than its pre- 
decessors, but his regard for Nevil spurred him on ; and he 
assured himself, another morning, that friendship was the 
greatest bliss on earth; therefore he went to Scotland. 
Not seeing Oswald at his home, but learning that he was 
gone to Lady Edgarmond's, the Count leaped on his horse 
to follow ; so much did he believe that he longed to meet 
him. As he rode quickly on, he saw a female extended 
motionless upon the road, and instantly dismounted to 
assist her. What was his horror at recognising, through 
their mortal paleness, the features of Corinne ! With the 
liveliest sympathy he helped his servant to arrange some 
branches as a litter, intending to convey her to Lady Ed- 
garmond's, when Theresina, who till now had remained in 
her mistress's carriage, alarmed at her absence, came to 
the spot, and, certain that no one but Lord Nevil could 
have reduced her lady to this state, begged that she might 
be borne to the neighboijring town. The Count followed 
her ; and for eight days, during which she suffered all the 
delirium of fever, he never left her. Thus it was the fri- 

SS4 corixne; or italy. 

volous man who proved faithful, while the man of senti- 
ment was breaking her heart. This contrast struck Co- 
rinne, when she recovered her senses, and she thanked 
d'Erfeuil with great feeling : he replied by striving to 
console her, more capable of noble actions than of serious 
conversation. Corinne found him useful, but could not 
make him her friend. She strove to recall her reason, and 
think over what had passed ; but it was long ere she 
could remember all she had done, and from what motive. 
Then, perhaps, she thought her sacrifice too great ; and 
hoped, at least, to bid Lord Nevil a last adieu, ere she left 
England ; but the day after she regained her faculties 
chance threw a newspaper in her way, which contained 
the following paragraph : — 

" Lady Edgarmond has lately learnt that her stepdaughter, 
who she believed had died in Italy, is still enjoying great 
literary celebrity at Rome, under the name of Corinne. 
Her Ladyship, much to her own honour, acknowledges the 
fair poet, and is desirous of sharing with her the fortune 
left by Lord Edgarmond's brother, who died in India. 
The marriage contract was yesterday signed, between his 
Lordship's youngest daughter (the only child of his widow) 
and Lord Nevil, who, on Sunday next, leads Miss Lucy 
Edgarmond to the altar." * 

Unfortunately Corinne lost not her consciousness after 
reading this announcement; a sudden change took place 
within her ; all the interests of life were lost ; she felt like 
one condemned to death, who had not known, till now, 
when her sentence would be executed ; and from this 
moment the resignation of despair was the only sensation 
of her breast. D'Erfeuil entered her room, and, finding 
her even paler than while in her swoon, anxiously asked 
her the news. She replied gravely, ^'^ I am no longer ill ; 
to-morrow is the Sabbath ; I will go to Plymouth, and 
embark for Italy." — ^' I shall accompany you," he ardently 
returned. " I've nothing to detain me here, and shall be 
charmed at travelling with you." — " How truly good you 
aye!" she said: " we ought not to judge from appear- 

• Do English peMs or gentlemen usually marry oji Sundays ?— Tb. 

cobinne; or italy. 335 

ances." Then, after checking herself, added, " I accept 
your guidance to the seaport, because I am not sure of 
my own ; but, once on board, the ship will bear me on, 
no matter in what state I may be." She signed for him 
to leave her, and wept long before her God, begging him 
to support her beneath this sorrow. Nothing was left of 
the impetuous Corinne. The active powers of her life 
were all exhausted ; and this annihilation, for which she 
could scarcely account, restored her composure. Grief 
had subdued her. Sooner or later all rebellious heads 
must bow to the same yoke. 

" It is to-day !" sighed Corinne, as she woke: ^' it is 
to-day ! " and entered her carriage with d'Erfeuil. He 
questioned her, but she could not reply. They passed a 
church : she asked his leave to enter for a tnoment ; then, 
kneeling before the altar, prayed for Oswald and for Lucy: 
but when she would have risen she staggered, and could 
not take one step without the support of The'resina and 
the Count, who had followed her. All present made way 
for her, with every demonstration of pity. '^ I look very 
miserable, then ? " she said : '^ the young and lovely, at 
this hour, are leaving such a scene in triumph." The Count 
scarcely understood these words. Kind as he was, and 
much as he loved Corinne, he soon wearied of her sadness, 
and strove to draw her from it, as if we had only to say 
we will forget all the woes of life, and do so. Sometimes 
he cried, '^ I told you how it would be." Strange mode 
of comforting ; but such is the satisfaction which vanity 
tastes at the expense of misfortune. Corinne fruitlessly 
strove to conceal her sufferings ; for we are ashamed of 
strong affections in the presence of the light-minded, and 
bashful in all feelings that must be explained ere compre^- 
hended — those secrets of the heart that can only be con- 
soled by those who guess them. Corinne was displeased 
with herself, as not sufficiently grateful for the Count's 
devotion to her service ; but in his looks, his words, his 
accents, there was so much which wandered in search of 
amusement, that she was often on the })oint of forgetting 
his generous actions, as he did himself. It is doubtless 
very magnanimous to set small price on our own good 


deeds^ but that indifference, so admirable in itself, may be 
carried to an extreme which approaches an unfeeling levity. 
Corinne, during her delirium, had betrayed nearly all 
her secrets — the papers had since apprised d'Erfeuil of the 
rest. He often wished to talk of what he called her 
*^ affairs/' but that word alone sufficed to freeze her con- 
fidence ; and she entreated him to spare her the pain of 
breathing Lord Nevil's name. In parting with the 
Count, Corinne knew not how to express herself; for she 
was at once glad to anticipate being alone, and grieved to 
lose a man who had behaved so well towards her. She 
strove to thank him, but he begged her so naturally not to 
speak of it, that she obeyed ; charging him to inform Lady 
Edgarmond that she refused the legacy of her uncle ; and 
to do so, as if she had sent this message from Italy ; for 
she did not wish her stepmother to know she had been in 
England. " Nor Nevil ? " asked the Count. ^' You may 
tell him soon, yes, veri/ soon ; my friends in Rome will 
let you know when." — '^'^ Take care of your health, at 
least," he added : " don't you know that / am uneasy 
about you? " — '^ Really ! " she exclaimed smiling. — *' Not 
■without cause, I believe." He offered her his arm to the 
yessel : at that moment she turned towards England, the 
country she must never more behold, where dwelt the sole 
object of her love and grief, and her eyes filled with the 
first sad tears she had ever shed in d'Erfeuil's presence. 
'^ Lovely Corinne ! " he said, '' forget that ingrate ! think 
of the friends so tenderly attached to you, and recollect 
your own advantages with pleasure." She withdrew her 
hand from him, and stepped back some paces ; then blam- 
ing herself for this reproof, gently returned to bid him 
adieu : but he, having perceived nothing of what passed 
in her mind, got into the boat with her; recommended her 
earnestly to the captain's care ; busied himself most en- 
dearingly on all the details that could render her passage 
agreeable ; and, when rowed ashore, waved his handker- 
chief to the ship as long as he could be seen. Corinne 
returned his salute. Alas I was this the. friend on whose 
attentions she ought to have been thrown ? Light loves 
last long : they are not tied so tight that they can break. 

corinne; or italy. 337 

They are obscured or brought to light by circumstances, 
while deep affections fly, never to return ; and in their 
places leave but cureless wounds. 


A FAVOURABLE brecze bore Corinne to Leghorn in less 
than a month : she suffered from fever the whole time ; 
and her debility was such that grief of mind was confused 
with the pain of illness; nothing seemed now distinct. 
She hesitated, on landing, whether she should proceed to 
Rome, or no ; but though her best friends awaited her, 
she felt an insurmountable repugnance to living in the 
scenes where she had known Oswald. She thought of 
that door through which he came to her twice every day ; 
and the prospect of being there without him was too 
dreary. She decided on going to Florence ; and beheving 
that her life could not long resist her sorrows, thus in- 
tended to detach herself by degrees from the world, by 
living alone, far from those who loved her, from the city 
that witnessed her success, whose inhabitants would strive 
to re-animate her mind, expect her to appear what she had 
been, while her discouraged heart found every effort odious. 
In crossing fertile Tuscany, approaching flower-breathed 
Florence, Corinne felt but an added sadness. How dread- 
ful the despair which such skies fail to calm ! One must 
feel either love or religion, in order to appreciate nature ; 
and she had lost the first of earthly blessings, without 
having yet recovered the peace which piety alone can 
afford the unfortunate. Tuscany, a well- cultivated, smiling 
land, strikes not the imagination as do the environs of 
Rome and Naples. The primitive institutions of its early 
inhabitants have been so effaced, that there scarcely re- 
mains one vestige of them ; but another species of historic 
beauty exists in their stead, — cities that bear the impress 
of the middle ages. At Sienna, the public square wherein 
the people assembled, the balcony from which their magistrate 

338 corinne; or italy. 

harangued them must catch the least reflecting eye, as proofs 
that there once flourished a democratic government. It 
is a real pleasure to hear the Tuscans, even of the lowest 
classes, speak : their fanciful phrases give one an idea of that 
Athenian Greek, which sounded like a perpetual melody. 
It is a strange sensation to believe one's self amid a people 
all equally educated, all elegant ; such is the illusion which, 
for a moment, the purity of their language creates. 

The sight of Florence recalls its history, previous to the 
Medicean sway. The palaces of its best families are built 
Hke fortresses : without are still seen the iron rings, to 
which the standards of each party were attached. All 
things seem to have been more arranged for the support 
of individual powers, than for their union in a common 
cause. The city appears formed for civil war. There are 
towers attached to the Hall of Justice, whence the approach 
of the enemy could be discerned. Such were the feuds 
between certain houses, that you find dwellings incon- 
veniently constructed, because their lords would not let 
them extend to the ground on which that of some foe had 
been pulled down. Here the Pazzi conspired against the 
De' Medici ; there the Guelfs assassinated the Ghibellines. 
The marks of struggling rivalry are every where visible, 
though but in senseless stones. Nothing is now left for 
any pretenders but an inglorious state, not worth dis- 
puting. The life led in Florence has become singularly 
monotonous : its natives walk every afternoon on the banks 
of the Arno, and every evening ask one another if they 
have been there. Corinne settled at a little distance from 
the town ; and let Prince Castel Forte know this, in the 
only letter she had strength to write : such was her horror 
of all habitual actions, that even the fatigue of giving the 
slightest order redoubled her distress. She sometimes 
passed her day in complete inactivity, retired to her pillow, 
f: rose again, opened a book, without the power to compre- 
i ..bend a line of it. Oft did she remain whole hours at her 
-window ; then would walk rapidly in her garden, cull its 
flowers, and seek to deaden her senses in their perfume ; 
*ibut the consciousness of life pursued her, like an un^-elent- 
ing ghost : she strove in vain to cahn the devouring faculty 

corinne; or italy. 339 

of thought, which no longer presented her with varied 
images ; but one lone idea, armed with a thousand stings, 
that pierced her heart. 


An hour passed in St, Peter's had been wont to compose 
her ; and Corinne hoped to find the same effect from visit- 
ing the churches of fair Florence. She walked beneath the 
fine trees on the river's bank, in a lovely eve of June. 
Roses embalmed the air, and every face expressed the 
general felicity from which she felt herself excluded ; yet 
she unenvyingly blessed her God for his kind care of man. 
" I am an exception to universal order," she said ; " there 
is happiness for every one but me : this power of suf- 
fering, beneath which I die, is then peculiar to myself. 
My God ! wherefore was I selected for such a doom ? 
May I not say, like thy Divine Son, ' Father, let this 
cup be taken from me } ' " The active air of the in- 
habitants astonished her : since she had lost all interest in 
life she knew not why others seemed occupied ; and slowly 
pacing the large stoned pavement of Florence, she forgot 
where she had designed to go. At last, she found herself 
before the far-famed gate of brass, sculptured by Ghiberti 
for the font of St. John's which stands beside the ca- 
thedral. For some time she examined this stupendous 
work ; where, wrought in bronze, the divers nations, though 
of minute proportions, are distinctly marked by their varied 
physiognomies ; all of which express some thought of their 
artist. " What patience !" cried Corinne ; " what respect 
for posterity ! yet how few scrutinise these doors through 
which so many daily pass, in heedlessness, ignorance, or 
disdain ! How difficult it is to escape oblivion ! how vast 
the power of death ! " 

In tills cathedral was Julian de Medicis assassinated. 
Not far thence, in the church of St. Lorenzo, is shown the 
marble chapel, enriched with precious stones, where rise 


the tombs of that high family, and Michael Angelo's 
statues of Julian and Lorenzo : the latter, meditating 
vengeance on the murder of his brother, deserves the 
honour of having been called ' la pensee de Michel Angela ! * 
At the feet of these figures are Aurora and Night. The 
awaking of the one is admirable ; still more so is the other's 
sleep. A poet chose it for his theme, and concluded by saying, 
'^ Sound as is her slumber, she lives : if you believe not, 
wake her, she will speak." Angelo, who cultivated letters 
(without which imagination of all kinds must soon decay), 
replied, — 

" Grate m'e il sono e piu I'esser d'y sasso. 
Mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura, 
Non veder, non sentir m'^ gran ventura; 
Pero non mi destar, deh parla basso!" 

^'^ It is well for me to sleep, still better to be stone; while 
shame and injustice last : — not to see, not to hear, is a 
great blessing ; therefore disturb me not ! speak low ! " 

This great man was the only comparatively modern 
sculptor who neither gave the human figure the beauty of 
the antique nor the affected air of our own day. You see 
the grave energy of the middle ages, its perseverance, its 
passions, but no ideal beauty. He was the genius of his 
own school; and imitated no one, not even the ancients. 
This tomb is in the church of Santa Croce. At his desire 
it faces a window whence may be seen the dome built by 
Filippo Brunelleschi ; as if his ashes would stir, even be- 
neath the marble, at the sight of a cupola copied from that 
of St. Peter's. Santa Croce contains some of the most 
illustrious dead in Europe. Galileo, persecuted by man, 
for having discovered the secrets of the sky : — Machiavel, 
•who revealed the arts of crime rather as an observer than 
an actor ; yet whose lessons are more available to the op- 
pressors than the oppressed: — Aretino, who consecrated 
his days to mirth, and found nothing serious in life ex- 
cept its end : — Boccaccio, whose laughing fancy resisted the 
united scourges of civil war and plague : — a picture in 
honour of Dante, showing that the Florentines, who per- 
mitted him to perish in exile, were not the less vain of his 
glory (5), with many other worthy names, and some cele- 

cobinne; or italy. 341 

brated in their own day, but echoing less forcibly from age 
to age, so that their sound is now almost unheard. (6) 
This church, adorned with noble recollections, rekindled 
the enthusiasm of Corinne, which the living had repressed. 
The silent presence of the great revived, for a moment, 
that emulation which once she felt for fame. She stepped 
more steadfastly, and the high thoughts of other days arose 
within her breast. Some young priests came slowly down 
the aisle, chanting in subdued tones : she asked the mean- 
ing of this ceremony. " We are praying for our dead," 
said one of them. '' Right," thought Corinne ; " your 
dead ! well may you boast them ; they are the only noble 
relics left ye. Ah ! why then, Oswald, have you stifled all the 
gifts Heaven granted me, with which I ought to excite the 
sympathy of kindred minds ? Oh God ! " she added, sink- 
ing on her knees, ^' it is not in vanity I dare entreat thee 
to give me back my talents; doubtless the lowly saints 
who lived and died for thee alone are greatest in thy sight ; 
but there are different careers for mortals : genius, which 
illustrates our noblest virtues, devotes itself to generous 
humanity and truth, may trust to be received into some 
outer heaven." She cast her eyes to earth, and, on the 
stone where she had knelt, read this inscription, — 

" Alone I rose, alone I sunk, I am alone e'en here," , 
" Ah ! " cried Corinne, " that is mine answer. What 
should embolden me to toil ? what pride can I ever feel ? 
who would participate in my success, or interest himself 
in my defeats ? Oh, I should need his look for my re- 
ward." Another epitaph fixed her attention, that of a 
youth who says, — 

" Pity me not, if you can guess how many pangs the grave hath 
spared me." 

How did those words wean her from life ! amid the tumult 
of a city this church opened to teach mankind the best of 
secrets, if they would learn : but no ; they passed it by, 
and the miraculous forgetfulness of death kept all the 
world alive. 

z 3 

342 corinne; or italy. 


The spring of feeling which had consoled Corinne for a 
few moments, led her next morning to the Gallery : she 
hoped to recover her taste, and draw some pleasure from 
her former pursuits. Even the fine arts are republican in 
Florence. Pictures and statues are shown at all hours, 
with the greatest ease. Well informed men, paid by the 
government, like public functionaries, explain all these 
chefs-d'oeuvre. This lingering respect for talent has ever 
pervaded Italy ; particularly Florence, where the Medicii 
extorted pardon for their power over human actions, by the 
free scope they left for human minds. The common people 
love the arts, and blend this taste with their devotion, 
which is more regular in Tuscany than in any other Italian 
state; but they frequently confound mythologic figures 
with Scripture history. One of the guides used to show a 
Minerva as Judith, and an Apollo as David ; adding, when 
he explained a has-relief, which represented the faU of 
Troy, that " Cassandra was a good Christian." Many 
days may be passed in the gallery ere half its beauties are 
known. Corinne went from one to the other, mortified at 
her own indifference and abstraction. The calm dignity 
which shines through the deep grief of Niobe, however, 
recalled her attention. In such a case, the countenance of 
a living mother would doubtless be more agitated; but the 
ideal arts preserve beauty even in despair; and what 
affects us most in works of genius, is not grief's self, but 
the soul's power o'er grief. Not far from this is a head of 
the dying Alexander. These two countenances afibrd rich 
material for thought. The conqueror looks astonished 
and indignant at not having achieved a victory even over 
nature. The anguish of maternal love is depicted on all 
the traits ef Niobe : she presses her daughter to her heart 
with the most touching eagerness ; her fine face bearing 
the stamp of that fatality which left the ancients no re- 
source, even in religion. Niobe lifts her eyes to heaven. 

corinne; or italy. 343 

but without hope ; for the gods themselves are her 

On her return home, Corinne strove to reflect on what 
she had seen, and retrace her impressions, as she had for- 
merly done ; but her mental distraction was uncontrollable. 
How far was she now from the power of improvisation ! 
In vain she sought for words, or wrote unmeaning ones, 
that dismayed her on perusal, as would the ravings of de- 
lirium. Incapable of turning her thoughts from her own 
situation, she then strove to describe it ; but no longer 
could she command those universal sentiments that find 
echoes in all hearts. Hers were now but long unvaried 
wailings, like the cry of the night bird ; her expressions 
were too inipetuous, too unveiled, — they were those of 
misery, not of talent. To write well, we require to feel 
truly, but not heart-breakingly. The best melancholy 
poetry is that inspired by a kind of rapture, which still 
tells of mental strength and enjoyment. Real grief is a 
foe to intellectual fertility : it produces a gloomy agitation, 
that incessantly returns to the same point, like the knight 
who, pursued by an evil genius, sought a thousand roads 
for escape, yet always found himself at the spot from 
whence he started. 

The state of Corinne's health completed the confusion 
of her mind. The following are a few of the reflections she 
wrote, while making a fruitless effort to become capable of 
a connected work. 



My genius lives no longer : I regret 
Its death : I own I should have loved that yet 
My lays had waked his sympathy ; my name 
Might still have reach'd him, heralded by fame. 
z 4 



I erred by hoping that in his own land 

The thoughtj!, the feelings — that our fates united — 
The influence of habit could withstand — 

Amid such scenes love's flower must soon be blighted. 

There is so much to say 'gainst maid like me ! 
How futile must the only answer be ! 
*' Such was her heart — her mind ;" a poor reply 
For hosts who know not what I was, nor why. 

Yet are they wrong to fear superior mind, 
The more it towers, more morallt/ refined : 
The more we know, the better we forgive ; 
Whoe'er feels deeply, feels for all who live. 

How can two beings who confided all, 

Whose converse was the spirit's griefs, its dangers, 
And immortality, bear this swift fall, 

Thus to each other become once more strangers ? 

What a mysterious sentiment is love ! 
Nothing, if not all other ties above — 
Vying in faith with all that martyrs feel — 
Or — colder than the simplest friendship's zeal. 

This most involuntary sense on earth, 
Doth heaven or mortal passion give it birth ? 
What storms it raises deep within the breast ! 
Must we obey, or combat such wild guest ? 

Talent should be a refuge ; as when one * 
Imprisoned to a cloister, art's true son, 
Bequeath'd its walls such traces of his doom, 
That genius glorified monastic gloom ! 

But he, though captive, sufFer'd from without ; 
His bosom was not torn by dread or doubt ; 
When grief is there, all efforts lose their force. 
The spring of comfort 's poison'd from its source. 

Sometimes I view myself as one apart, 
Impartially, and pity my own heart; 
Was I not mental, kind to others' pain. 
Generous, and frank ? Then why all this in vain ? 
Is the world really so vile, that charms 
Like these but rob us of our needful arms ? 

* Dominichino. 

corinne; or italy. 345 

'Tis pitiful ! Spite all my youth hath shown, 

In spite my glory, I shall die unknown ; 

Nor leave one proof of what I might have been, 

Had I learnt happiness, or could defy 
This all-devouring fever — men had seen 

Me contemplate them from a station high. 
Tracking the hidden links between yon heaven 
And human nature; but the clue is riven. 
How, how think freely, while each painful breath 
But bids me feel the woe that weighs me down to death ? 

Oh ! why would he forbear to render blest 
A heart whose secret he alone possess'd ? 
To him — him only spoke my inmost soul ! 
'Tis easy to leave those chance may control. 
The common herd — but she who must admire. 
Yet judge ere fancy kindles love's chaste fire. 
Expansive as it is, to soul like hers. 
There 's but one object in the universe ! 

I learnt life from the poets ; 'tis not thus ; 
Vainly they strive to change the truth, for us 
Who live to wake from their soft dreams, and see 
The barrenness of life's reality ! 

Remembering what I was but chafes my pride. 
Why tell me I could charm, if not for love ? 
Why inspire confidence, to make me prove 

But the more fearful anguish when it died ? 

Will he, in any other, meet more mind 

Than was mine own ? a heart more true and kind ? 

No ! but — congenial with heartlessness — 

He will be more content in finding less. 

In presence of the sun, or starry spheres, 

To deserve love we need but to desire — 
For love ennobles all that it endears ; 

Conscious of mutual worth, we look no higher. 
But ah, society ! where each must owe , 
His fate but to factitious joy or woe, — 
Where what is said of him becomes the test— 
How soon it hardens e'en the trifler's breast . 

Could men once meet, free from this false control. 
How pure an air were breathed into the soul ! 
How would the mind, refresh'd by feelings true, 
Teem with ideas natural and new ! 


E'en Nature's cruel : this praised face 

Is fading : what avails it now 

That still I pour affection's vow, 
Without one look my prayer to grace ? 
These tear-dimm'd eyes no more express, 
As once they might, ray tenderness. 

Within my bosom is a pain 

No language ever can explain — 

I have no strength for task like this ; 

Love, only love, could sound the abyss. 

How happy men ! in honour's strife 
They burst the chains of hated life. 
We hope no solace from the throng ; 

Our torture is to bear, 
Stirless and mute, a lone life long, ; 

The presence of Despair. 
Sometimes, when listing music's tone. 
It tells of powers so late mine own, 
Song, dance, and poesie — I start, 
As I could fly from this sad heart. 
To joy again ; a sudden chill 

Reminds me that the world would say, 
* Back, lingering ghost ! it fits thee ill 

To brave the living, and the day !' 

I wish I now could find a spell 

'Gainst misery in the crowd : 't was well 

To mix there once, lest solitude 

Should bear my thoughts too far through fate. 
My mind grew flexible, imbued 

With gay impressions ; 't is too late ; , 
Features and feeling fix for aye ; 
Smiles, fancies, graces ! where are they ? 

Ah ! if 't were in a moment o'er. 
Fain would I taste of hope once more ! 
But all is done : life can but be 
A burning desert now to me ; 
The drop of water, like the river, 
Sullied with bitterness for ever. 
A single day's enjoyment is 
Impossible, as years of bliss. 

Guilty towards me as I must deem 
My love, — compared with other men 

What mindless things of art they seem ! 
How does he rise an angel then ! — 

corinne; or italy. 347 

E'en though his sword of flame consume 
My life, and devastate my doom ; 
Heaven lends the one beloved its power 
Thus to avenge each mis-spent hour. 

'Tis not first love that must endure ; 

It springs but from the dreams of youth ; 
But if, with intellect mature, 
We meet the mind long sought in vain, 

Fancy is then subdued by truth. 
And we have reason to complain. 

" What maniacs ! " the many cry, 
" Are those for love who live or die ! 
As if, when such frail boon is reft, 
A thousand blessings were not left ! " 

Enthusiasm, though the seed 

Of every high heroic deed, 

Each pious sacrifice — its lot ^ 

Is scorn, from those who feel it not. 

All then is folly, if they will. 

Save their own selfish care 
Of mortal life ; this nobler thrill 

Is madness every where. 

Alas ! it is my worst distress 
That he alone my thoughts could guess : 
Too late and vainly may he find 
That I alone could read his mind. 
Mine own should thus be understood ; 

In friendship's varying degrees 

Easy, yet diflScult to please : 
With cordial hours for all the good, 
But with affection deep and true. 
Which but for one, for him I knew. # 

Feeling and fancy, wit and reason, 

Where now such union can I find, 
Seek the world through — save his — whose treason 

'Gainst love hath slain me ? Oswald's mind 
Blends all these charms, unless I dream'd 
He was the wonder he but seem'd. 

548 corinne; or italy. 

How then to others should I speak ? 
In whom confide? what subjects seek ? 
What end, aim, interest remains ? 
The sweetest joys, the bitterest pains, 
Already known, what should I fear? 

Or what expect? Before me cast 
A future changeless, w5n, and drear, 

As but the spectre of my past ! 

Why, why is happiness so brief ? 

Life's weeds so strong, its flower so frail ? 
Is nature's natural order grief ? 
Unwonted pain soon finds relief 

When its strange throes our frames assail — 
Joy to the soul 's less usual : there 
The habitual state is this despair. 
How mutable the world appears 
Where nothing lasts, but pain and tears ! * 

Another life ! another life i 

That is my hope ! but still such force 
Hath this we bear, that we demand 
In heaven the same rebelHous band 
Of passions that here caused our strife. 
The northern zealots paint the shade 

Still hunting, with his hound and horse, 
The phantom stag, through cloudy glade ; 
Yet dare we call such shapes unreal ? 

Nought here is sure save that Distress — 
Whose power all suffer who can feel — 

Keeps her unpitying promises ! > 

I dream of immortality ! 

No more of that which man can give ; 

Once in the future did I live. 
The present seemed too old for me.'f* 
All I now *sk of Him on high. 
Is, that my heart may never die ! 
Father ! the offering and the shrine 
A mortal spurns; with grace divine, 
Deign to receive, — 'tis thine ! — 'tis thine ! 

• " Ahi ! null' altro che pianto al mondo dura."— Petjurch. 
f That idea is Dante's. 

cobinne; ok italy. 349 

I know my days will be but few ; ^ 

That thought restores a sense of rest : 
'Tis sweet to feel, as now I do, 

Death draw Griefs barb from out my breast. 

'Tis Superstition's sad retreat, 

More than the home of pious trust ; 
Devotion to the blest is sweet. — 

What gratitude to the All Just 

Ought Oswald's wife to feel ! Oh God, she must. 

And yet misfortune oft improves, 

Corrects us, teaches us to weigh v 

Our errors with our sufferings : they 
Are wedded : we repent the loves 
Of earth, when salutary time 
And solitude inspires love more sublime. 

'Tis this I need, ere yet I can fulfil 
A tranquil voyage to life more tranquil still : — 
What innocence is in the thoughts of those 
About to leave this life of passion's woes ? 
The secret which not Genius' self can share, 
The enigma, may it be reveal'd to prayer ? 
May not some simple thought, by reverie 
Full oft approach'd, disclose the mystery ? 
Vast as the efforts which the soul may make ' 
They weary her in vain ; she cannot take 
This latest step ; life must be still unknown, 
Till its last hour on earth be well nigli flown ! 
'Tis time mine should repose ; and who will sigh, 
'Tis still, at last, the heart that beat so high ! 


Prince Castel Forte quitted Rome, to settle near Corinne. 
She felt most grateful for this proof of friendship, and yet 
ashamed that she could not requite it, even by such con- 
versation as of yore : now she was silent and abstracted ; 
her failing health robbed her of all the strength required, 
even for a momentary triumph over her absorbing griefs. 

350 corinne; or italy. 

That interest^ which the heart's courtesy inspires^ she could 
still at times evince ; but her desire to please was lost for 
ever. Unhappy love freezes all our affections : our own 
souls grow inexplicable to us. More than we gained while 
we were happy we lose by the reverse. That added life 
which made us enjoy nature lent an enchantment to our 
intercourse with society ; but the heart's vast hope once 
lost, existence is impoverished, and all spontaneous im- 
pulses are paralysed. Therefore, a thousand duties com- 
mand women, and men still more, to respect and fear the 
passion they awaken, since it may devastate the mind as 
well as the heart. 

Sometimes Castel Forte might speak for several minutes 
to Corinne without a reply, because she neither under- 
stood nor eveti heard him. When she did, her answers 
had none of that glowing animation once so remarkable ; 
they merely dragged on the dialogue for a few seconds, and 
then she relapsed into silence. Sometimes, as she had done 
at Naples, she would smile in pity over her own failures. 
The amiable prince humoured her on all her favourite 
topics. She would thank him, by pressing his hand, and 
once, after a walk on the banks of the Arno, began to jest 
with her accustomed grace : he gazed, and listened in glad 
surprise ; but she abruptly broke off, and rushed from the 
room in tears. On returning, she said, gently, " Pardon 
me, my generous friend; I would fain make myself 
agreeable ; it will not be : bear with me as I am." What 
most distressed him, was the shock her constitution had 
received : no immediate danger threatened her, yet it was 
impossible that she could live long, unless she regained 
some vigour. If she endeavoured to speak on aught that 
concerned the soul, her wan tremor was painful to behold ; 
and he strove to divert her from this strain. He ventured 
to talk of Oswald, and found that she took a perverse 
pleasure in the subject ; but it left her so shaken, that he 
was obliged to interdict it. Castel Forte was a susceptible 
being ; but not even the most magnanimous of men knows 
how to console the woman he has loved under the pangs 
thus inflicted by another. Some little self-love on his side, 
must aid her timidity, in preventing perfect confidence. 

corinne; or italy. 351 

Besides^ what would it avail ? It can only be of service to 
those wounds which would cure themselves without it. 

At this time the prince received a letter from Lord 
Nevil, replete with professions, which would have deeply- 
affected Corinne : he mused for hours together on the pro- 
priety of showing it to her; hut anticipating the violence of 
its effects on a creature so feeble, he forebore. Even while 
he was thus deliberating, another letter reached him, an- 
nouncing his Lordship's departure for America. Castel 
Forte then decided on saying nothing to Corinne. Perhaps 
he erred : one of her greatest griefs was Nevil's silence ; 
she scarce dared own it to herself ; but though for ever 
separated from him, one recollection, one regret, would 
have been very precious to her : as it was, he gave her, 
she thought, no opportunity of hearing his name, left her 
no excuse for breathing it. The sorrow, of which no one 
speaks to us, which gains no change from time, cuts 
deeper than reiterated blows : the good prince followed 
the usual maxim, which bids us do our utmost towards 
teaching a mourner to forget ; but there is no oblivion for 
the imaginative: it were better to keep alive their memories, 
weary them of their tears, exhaust their sighs, and force 
them back upon themselves, that they may reconcentrate 
their own powers. 


Oswald's return to italy. 


Let us now return to the events which occurred in Scot- 
land, after the sad fete at which Corinne made her self- 
sacrifice. Lord Nevil's servant carried his letters to the 
ball-room. Oswald retired to read them. He opened 

352 corinne; or italy. 

several which his agent had sent from London, little guess- 
ing that among them was one which would decide his 
fate; but when he beheld the writing of Corinne, and 
saw the ring, the words, — ^^ You are free!" — he felt at 
once the most cruel grief and the most furious irritation. 
He had not heard from her for two months, and now her 
silence was broken by this laconic decision. He remem- 
bered what Lady Edgarmond had said of her instability, 
and entered into all the stepdame's feelings against her ; 
for he still loved enough to be unjust, forgetting how long 
he had renounced the idea of marrying her, how much 
Lucy had pleased him ; he looked on him^lf as the 
blameless victim of an inconstant woman : perplexity and 
despair beset him ; but over them both towered his proud 
soul prompting him to rise superior to his wronger. This 
boasted pride rarely exists unless self-love predominates 
over affection. Had Nevil now valued Corinne as in their 
days at Rome and Naples, not all his " wrongs supposed" 
could have torn her from his heart. 

Lady Edgarmond detected his distress. The fatal ma- 
lady beneath which she laboured increased her ardent 
interest in her daughter. She knew the poor child's heart, 
and feared that she had compromised her happiness for 
ever; therefore she seldom lost sight of Nevil, but read 
his secrets with that discernment which is deemed peculiar 
to our sex, but which belongs solely to the continual ob- 
servance wtiich a real interest teaches us. On the pretext 
of transferring Corinne's inheritance, she besought Lord 
Nevil's company next morning, and shortly guessed that 
he was much dissatisfied ; she flattered his resentment by 
the prospect of a noble vengeance, offering to recognise 
her husband's daughter. This sudden change amazed 
him ; yet though its condition was unexplained, he com- 
prehended it ; and, in one of those moments at which we 
act more quickly than we can think, demanded Lucy's 
hand. Her mother, scarce able to restrain her joy, so as 
not to say yes too hastily, consented ; and he left her pre- 
sence, bound by an engagement, which, when he entered 
it, he had not dreamt of undertaking. While Lady Ed- 
garmond prepared Lucy to receive him, he paced the garden 

corinne; or italy. 353 

in violent agitation, telling himself that she had merely 
pleased him, because he knew little of her, and that it 
was madness to found the happiness of his Hfe on the 
charm of a mystery that must inevitably be dissipated. 
He then retraced his letters to Corinne, too plainly show- 
ing his internal struggles. " She 's right ! " he sighed : 
" I have not the courage fit to make her blest ; but yet it 
should have cost her more to lose me — that cold brief 
line — yet who knows but her tears might have fallen on 
it!" His own burst forth in spite of him. These re- 
veries hurried him on unconsciously so far, that he was 
long sought in vain by the servant sent to tell him, that 
Lady Edgarmond desired his return. Astonished at his 
own lack of eagerness, he obeyed. On re-entering the 
drawing-room, he found Lucy kneeling, her head reclined 
on the bosom of her parent, with a most touching grace. 
As she heard his footsteps, she raised her flowing eyes, 
and, extending her hand to him, said simply, " My 
Lord, I know you will not separate me from my mother." 
This innocent manner of announcing her consent much 
interested Oswald, who, sinking on his knees, besought 
Lady Edgarmond's permission to imprint on that blushing 
forehead the first kiss which had ever awakened more 
than childlike emotions in the breast whose beauty less 
enchanted him than did its celestial modesty. The days 
which preceded that chosen for their marriage were spent 
in the needful arrangements. Lucy spoke more than 
usual ; but all she said was so nobly natural, that Oswald 
loved and approved her every word, and yet he felt a void 
beside her. Their conversation consisted but of questions 
and answers ; she neither started nor prolonged any sub- 
ject : all went well ; but without that exhaustless animation 
with which it is so difficult for those who have once en- 
joyed it to dispense. Lord Nevil thought of Corinne ; but, 
as he no longer heard her named, hoped that her image 
would at last become merely an object of his vague regret. 
When Lucy learnt from her mother that her sister still 
lived in ItaJy, she much wished to talk of her with Os- 
wald, but Lady Edgarmond forbade; and the girl, ha- 
bitually submissive, asked not the reason of thii prohibition. 

▲ A 

354 corinne; or, italy. 

On the morning of his marriage the hapless Corinne 
haunted Nevil fearfully ; but he addressed his father's 
spirit^ confessing that it was to win his heavenly be- 
nediction his son accomplished thus his will on earth. 
Re-assured by these meditations,, he sought his bride, 
reproaching himself for having allowed his thoughts to 
wander from her. A descending angel could not have 
chosen a face more fit than hers to give mortality a dream 
of heavenly virtue. At the altar Lady Edgarmond was 
even more agitated than her daughter ; for all important 
steps alarm us the more the greater our experience. Lucy 
was all hope ; childhood still mingled with her youth, and 
blended joy with love. In leaving the church she leaned 
timidly on Oswald's arm, as if to assure herself of his 
protection : he looked on her tenderly, feeling, at the bottom 
of his heart, a foe who menaced her repose, and from 
whom he had promised to defend her. Lady Edgarmond, 
on their return, said to her son-in-law, — " My mind is 
easy: I have confided to you the happiness of my daugh. 
ter ; and have so short a time to live, that it is a comfort 
for me to think my place will be so well supplied." Lord 
Nevil was much affected by these words, and anxiously 
mused on the duties they imposed. A few days elapsed : 
Lucy had begun to meet her husband's eye with confidence, 
and make her mind known to him, when unlucky incidents 
disturbed the union commenced under these favourable 


Mr. Dickson paid his respects to the young couple, apolo- 
gising for not having been present at their marriage. He 
had been ill, he said, from the effects of a fall, though 
kindly assisted by the most charming woman in the world. 
Oswald, at this moment, was playing battledore and 
shuttlecock with Lucy, who was very graceful at this 
exercise. Her bridegroom gazed on her, and listened not 


to Mr. Dickson, who, at last, called to him from the other 
end of the room. *' My Lord, the fair unknown, who 
came to my aid, had certainly heard much about you, for 
she asked me many questions concerning your jfate." — 
" Who do you mean ? " said Nevil, continuing his game. — 
'^ A lovely creature, my Lord, although she looked changed 
by suffering, and could not speak of you without emo- 
tion." * These words attracted Oswald's attention ; but 
Lucy, perfectly unconcerned, joined her mother, who had 
just sent for her. Lord Nevil now asked Mr. Dickson 
what lady it was who had thus spoken of him. " I know 
not," he replied : ^' her accent proved her English, though 
I have rarely found so obliging and easy a person 
among our countrywomen. She took as much care of a 
poor old man like me as if she had been my own child : 
while I was beside her, I did not feel my bruises ; but, my 
dear Oswald, have you been faithless here as well as in 
Italy ? My beauteous benefactress trembled and turned 
pale at naming you." — " Just heaven ! " exclaimed Nevil, v 
*' you said an Englishwoman ? " — ^' Oh yes : you know 
foreigners never pronounce our language without a certain 
intonation." — " And her face ? " — " The most expressive 
I ever saw, though fearfully pale and thin." This de- 
scription suited not the bright Corinne ; yet might she not 
have suffered much, if in England, and unable to find the 
being she sought ? This dread fell suddenly on Oswald, 
who continued his questions with extreme uneasiness. 
Mr. Dickson replied that the lady conversed with an ele- 
gance which he had never before met, that the gentlest kind- 
ness spoke from her sad and languid eyes. " Did you 
notice their colour?" askedOswald. — " Magnificently dark I " 
The catechist trembled. " From time to time," continued 
Mr. Dickson,. " she interrogated, or answered, me, and 
what she did say was delightful." He would have pro- 
ceeded, but Lady Nevil, with her mother, rejoined them ; 
and Oswald hastily retired, hoping soon again to find Mr. 
Dickson alone. Struck by his sadness. Lady Edgarmond sent 

* Even had not Mr. Dickson been aware of Oswald's circumstances, such a 
speech before his bride would have been bad enough. It is unpardonable, as 
he knew to much. — Tit 

A A 2 


Lucy away, that she might enquire its cause. Her guest 
simply repeated what had passed : terrified at anticipating 
the despair of Oswald, if he were assured that Corinne had 
followed him to Scotland ; foreseeing, too, that he would 
resume this topic, she instructed Mr. Dickson as to what 
she wished said to her son-in-law. Thus the old gentle- 
man only increased the anxiety it was too late to remove. 
Oswald now asked his servant if all the letters sent him 
within the last three weeks had come hy post.* The 
man ^ believed they had/ and was leaving the room ; but, 
turning back, added, " I remember that, on the ball night, 
a blind man gave me one for your Lordship. I supposed 
it a petition for charity." — '^ I received none such : coidd 
you find this man ? " — ^' Yes, my Lord, directly ; he lives 
in the village." — " Go, bring him to me ! " said Nevil ; 
and, unable to wait patiently, walked out to meet him at 
the end of the avenue. " So, my friend," he said, '^ you 
brought a letter here for me, on the evening of the ball ; 
who gave it to you ? " — " My Lord, ye see I 'm blind ; how 
wad I ken ?" — " Do you think it was a female?" — '^Ech, 
fine that, my Lord ! for I hard weel eneuch that she was 
vera soft voiced, though I jaloused the while that she was 
greeting." — " And what did she say to you?" — "Oh, sir, 
she said, ' Gude auld man, gie this to Oswald's servant,' 
and there stopped, but syne she added, ^ I mean Lord 
Nevil's.'" — '^ Ah, Corinne ! " exclaimed Oswald, and grew 
so faint that he was forced to support himself on the poor 
creature's arm, who continued, " I was sitting under a tree 
just, and wished to do the leddy's bidding diract, but could 
scarce raise mysel, being auld the noo : weel, after giein 
me mair siller than I'd had for lang, she was that free she 
lent me her hand, puir thing I it trembled just as your 
Lordship's does this minute," — " Enough ! " sighed Nevil. 
'' Here, my good friend, as she gave you money, let me do 
so too : go, and pray for us both ! " He withdrew. 

From this moment a terrible agitation pneyed on his 
mind : he made a thousand useless enquiries, unable to 
conceive the possibility of Corinne's having been in Scotland 

* I wonder he had not obaerred that Corinne's bore no post-mark. — Tb. i 


without seeking him. He formed various conjectures, as to 
her motives ; and, in spite of all his endeavours to conceal it, 
this affliction was evident to Lady Edgarmond, nay, even to 
Lucy. All was constraint and silence. At this time Oswald 
wrote first to Castel Forte. Had Corinne read that letter, it 
would much have softened her resentment. 

Count d'Erfeuil joined the Nevils ere the Prince's 
reply arrived. He said no more of Corinne than was 
necessary, yet felt vexed at their not perceiving that he had 
an important secret in his power, though too discreet to 
betray it. His insinuations at first took no effect upon 
Oswald ; hut, when he detected that they referred to 
Corinne, he was all curiosity. The Count having brought 
him to this, defended his own trust pretty bravely ; at last, 
however, his friend drew forth the whole truth. It was 
a pleasure for d'Erfeuil to relate how grateful Corinne 
had felt, and in what a wretched state he had found her : 
he ran on, without observing how he agonised Lord 
Nevil : his only object was that of being the hero of his 
own story ; when he ceased, he was much afflicted at the 
mischief he had done. Oswald had commanded himself 
till then, but suddenly became distracted with regret; accused 
himself as the most barbarous and ungrateful of men ; raved 
of Corinne' s devoted tenderness ; her generosity at the very 
moment when she believed him most culpable. He con- 
trasted this with the heartless fickleness by which he had 
requited her ; incessantly repeating that no one ever loved 
him as she did ; and that he should in some way be ulti- 
mately punished for his cruelty. He would have set forth 
to see her, if only for a day, an hour ; but Rome and 
Florence were already occupied by the French : his regi- 
ment was about to embark ; he could not forfeit his own 
honour, nor break the heart of his wife ; indeed, no faults 
he might now commit could repair the past ; they would 
but add to the misery he had occasioned. The only hope 
that calmed him was derived from the dangers he was 
about to brave. In this mood he wrote again to Castel 
Forte, whose replies represented Corinne as sad, but re- 
signed : his pride in her softened rather than exaggerated 
the truth. Oswald believed that he ought not to torture 
A A 3 



her by his regrets^ after having so wronged her by his 
love^ — and left Britain with a sense of remorse which nearly 
rendered life insupportable. 


Lucy was afflicted by his departure ; yet his recent gloom 
had so increased her natural timidity, that she had never 
found courage to confide in him her hopes of becoming a 
mother; but left it for Lady Edgarmond to send these 
tidings after him. Nevil, unable to guess what passed in 
his wife's heart, had thought her farewell cold ; compared 
her silent submission with the eloquence of Corinne, and 
hesitated not to believe that Lucy loved him but feebly; 
yet, during his absence, scarcely could even the birth of 
their daughter divert her mind from his perils. Another 
grief was added to all this. D'Erfeuil spent a year in 
Scotland, strongly persuaded that he had not revealed the 
secret of Corinne's sojourn there ; but he said so much that 
implied it, and found such difficulty, when conversation 
flagged, in avoiding the theme most interesting to Lady 
Nevil, that she at last learnt the whole truth. Innocent 
as she was, it required even less art than she possessed 
to draw d'Erfeuil out upon a favourite subject. Lady 
Edgarmond was too ill to be present at these conversations; 
but when she questioned her daughter on the melancholy 
she detected, Lucy told all. Her mother spoke very severely 
on Corinne's pursuit of Oswald. Lucy was alternately 
jealous of her sister, and indignant against her husband, 
for deserting one to whom he had been so dear. She 
could not help trembling for her own peace, with a man 
who had thus wrecked that of another. She had ever 
cherished a grateful recollection of her early instructress, 
which now blended with sympathy : far from feeling 
flattered by Oswald's sacrifice, she was tormented by the 
idea that he had chosen her merely because her position in 

corinne; or italy. 359 

the world was more advantageous than that of Corinne. 
She remembered his hesitation before marriage, his sadness 
so soon after, and every thing confirmed the cruel belief 
that her husband loved her not. Lady Edgarmond might 
have been of great service to her daughter, had she striven 
to calm her ; but she too intolerantly anathematised all 
sentiments that deviated from the line of duty ; nor 
dreamt of tenderly leading a wanderer back, thinking that 
the only way to awake conscience was by just resentment. 
She was mortified that so lovely a woman should be so ill 
appreciated ; and aggravated Lucy's fears, in order to 
excite her pride. Lady Nevil, more gentle and enlightened 
than her mother, could not rigorously follow such advice ; 
yet her letters to Oswald were always far colder than her 
heart. Meanwhile he was distinguishing himself nobly, 
exposing his life, not merely in honourable enthusiasm, 
but in a positive love of peril. He appeared most gay 
when most actively employed, and would blush with 
pleasure when the tumult of battle commenced. At such 
moments a weight seemed lifted from his heart, and he 
could breathe with ease. The popularity he enjoyed 
among his fellow-soldiers animated the existence it could 
not render happy, and almost blinded him both to the past 
and future. He grew accustomed to the lukewarm cor- 
respondence of his wife, whom he did not suppose offended 
with him. When he remembered her it was as a being 
worthy of his protection, and whose mind he ought to 
spare from all deeply serious thoughts. But in those 
splendid tropic nights, that give so grand an idea of nature 
and its Author, the image of Corinne was often with him ; 
yet, as both war and climate menaced his life each hour, 
he excused his lingering memory. At the approach of 
eternity, we forgive and hope to be forgiven. He thought 
but of the tears his death would cause her, not upon those 
his errors had extorted. It was natural he should think 
most of her; they had so often talked of immortality, and 
sounded every depth of solemn feeling: he fancied that he 
still conversed with her, while occupied by the great 
thoughts the spectacles of war invariably suggest. It was 
to Corinne he spoke in solitude, although he knew that 
A A 4 



she must sadly blame him. Spite absence, distance, time, 
and every change, they seemed to understand each other 

At last his regiment was ordered home. The monotony 
of shipboard pleased him less than had the stir of arms. 
External excitement supplied some of the imaginative joys 
he owed to his intercourse with Corinne. He had not yet 
attempted to live calmly without her. The proofs of de- 
votion his soldiers gave him somewhat beguiled the voyage; 
but even that interest failed on their landing in England. 


Nevil had now to renew his acquaintance with his own 
family, after four years* separation. He arrived at Lady 
Edgarmond's castle in Northumberland. Lucy presented 
her child with as much diffidence as if she had deemed 
herself guilty. Her imagination had been so occupied by 
her sister, during the period of her maternal expectations, 
that little Juliet displayed the dark eyes and hair of Co- 
rinne. Her father, in wild agitation, pressed her to his 
heart ; and from that instant Lucy could not take un- 
qualified delight in his affection for his daughter. The 
young wife was now nearly twenty. Her beauty had 
attained a dignity which inspired Nevil with respect. 
Lady Edgarmond was too infirm to leave her bed ; yet, 
though this tried her temper, she received her son-in-law 
with satisfaction ; having feared that she should die in his 
absence, and leave her daughter alone upon the world. 
Oswald, so long accustomed to a mihtary career, found it 
very difficult to remain nearly all day in the chamber of 
an invalid, who received no one but himself and wife. 
Lucy dearly loved her lord ; but, believing her affection 
unprized, concealed what she knew of his passion for Co- 
rinne, and became more silent than ever. Mild as she was, 
her mother had so influenced her, that when Oswald hinted 
at the added charm she would gain by a little animatioDj 

corinne; or italy. 


she received this but as a proof that he still preferred her 
sister, and was too hurt to profit by it : he could not speak 
of the fine arts without occasioning her a sadness that re- 
pressed his enthusiasm. Had she been better taught, she 
would have treasured up his lightest word, that she might 
study how to please him. Lady Edgarmond evinced a 
growing distaste for all deviations from her habitual rou- 
tine : her irritated nerves shrunk from every sound. She 
would have reduced life to a state of stagnation, as if the 
less to regret its loss : but, as few like to confess their 
personal motives for certain opinions, she supported hers 
on the general principles of exaggerated morality ; and 
disenchanted life, by making sins of its least amusements, — 
by opposing some duty to every employment which would 
have made to-day differ from yesterday or to-morrow. 
Lucy, duteous as she was, had so much flexibility of mind 
that she would have joined her husband in gently reasoning 
with this exacting austerity, had she not been persuaded 
that it was adopted merely to discountenance Oswald's 
Italian predilections. " You must struggle most perse- 
veringly," would her mother say, " against any return of 
that dangerous infatuation." Lord Nevil had a great 
reverence for duty ; but he understood it in a wider sense 
than that of Lady Edgarmond: tracing it to its source, he 
found that it might perfectly accord with natural inclin- 
ation, instead of requiring perpetual combats and sacrifices. 
Virtue, he thought, far from rendering life a torture, con- 
tributes to the duration of its happiness, and may be consi- 
dered as a sort of prescience granted " to man alone beneath 
the heaven." Sometimes, in explaining these ideas, he 
yielded to the pleasure of quoting Corinne ; but such lan- 
guage always offended his mother-in-law. New doctrines 
ever displease the old. They like to fancy that the world 
has been losing wisdom, instead of gaining it, since they 
were young. Lucy's heart instinctively detected the 
echoes of her sister's voice in the sentiments Oswald 
breathed with so much ardour. She would cast down her 
eyes to hide this consciousness : her husband, utterly un- 
aware of it, attributed her apparent insensibility to want 
of comprehension ; and not knowing where to seek con- 


corinne; or italy. 

geniality sunk into despondence. He wrote to Castel 
Forte for news of Corinne ; but the war prevented the 
letter's arrival. His health suffered from the cold of Eng- 
land ; and the physicians assured him that his chest would 
be again attacked, if he did not pass the winter in Italy. 
He told this to his wife and mother, adding, that the war 
between France and England must at present prevent his 
tour. " And when peace is concluded," said Lady Ed- 
garmond, " I should hope, my Lord, that you would not 
think of returning to Italy." — '' If his health depends on 
it," ventured Lucy, '*' he could not do better.'' Oswald 
expressed much gratitude for her kindness. Alas ! his 
thanks but assured her of his love for another. 

War ceased ; and every time Oswald complained, Lucy's 
heart was divided between her dread of his departure for 
Italy, and her fondness, which over-rated his indisposition. 
He attributed her doubt of the necessity for this voyage 
to selfishness : thus each wounded the other's feelings, 
because neither dared confess their own. All these inter- 
ests were soon absorbed in the state of Lady Edgarmond, 
who was now speechless, and could only express herself by 
tears, or by the manner in which she pressed their hands. 
Lucy was in despair. Oswald sat up every night with 
her. It was now December ; and these cares were highly 
injurious to him, though they seemed much to gratify the 
sufferer, whose faults disappeared just as her agonies would 
have excused them. The approach of deith stills all thQ 
tumults of soul from which most of our errors proceed. 
On her last night she joined the hands of Oswald and 
Lucy, pressed them to her heart, and raised her eyes to 
heaven ; no longer deploring the voice which could have 
added nothing to the impressiveness of that action, — that 
look. In a few seconds she expired. 

Lord Nevil, who had supported himself by great effort, 
for her sake, now became dangerously ill, and poor Lucy's 
distress was thus redoubled. In his delirium, he often 
named Corinne, and Italy, sighing, " Oh, for the south- 
ern sun ! it is so cold in the north here : I shall never be 
warm again." When he recovered his senses he was sur- 
prised at finding that Lucy had prepared every thing for 



his voyage : she merely repeated the advice of his phy- 
sicians, adding, " If you will permit it, I shall accompany 
you; and our child ought not to be parted from her parents." 
— " No, no, we will not part," he answered; " but if 
this journey would pain you, I renounce it." — " That 
will not pain me," she replied. Oswald took her hand, 
and gazed enquiringly on her : she would have explained 
herself; but the memory of her mother's advice never to 
betray a sign of jealousy, reproved her, and she added, — 
^' You must be sure, my Lord, that my first object is the 
re-establishment of your health." — " You have a sister in 
Italy," continued he. — "I know it: have you any tidings 
of her ? " — " Never since I left for America." — '' Well, 
my Lord, we shall learn all in Italy." — " Are ;}^ou then 
interested in her still?" — "Yes; I have not forgotten 
the tenderness she showed my childhood." — " We ought 
not to forget," sighed Nevil; and both again were silent. 
Oswald had too much delicacy to desire a renewal of his 
former ties with Corinne ; but he thought that it would be 
sweet to die in Italy, after receiving her pardon and 
adieu. He little deemed that his delirium had betrayed 
him, and did injustice to the mind of his wife ; because it 
had rather shown him the opinion of others than what 
she felt herself, he believed she loved him as much as 
she could love, but he knew nothing of her sensibility ; at 
present her pride disguised it ; but, had she been perfectly 
happy, she would have thought it improper to avow a pas- 
sionate affection even for her own husband ; capable as 
she was of it, education had convinced her that it would be 
immodest to profess this feeling ; but nothing could teach 
her to take pleasure in speaking of any thing else. 


Oswald, disliking all recollections of France, crossed it 
very hastily. Lucy evinced neither wish nor will of any 
kind, but left it for him to decide every thing. They 



reached the base of the mountains that separate Dauphine 
from Savoy, and ascended the Pas des Echelles on foot : 
this road is dug in the rocks ; its entrance resembles a deep 
cavern ; it is dark throughout, even in the brightest days 
of summer. As yet they found no snow; but autumn, 
the season of decay, was herself fast fading. The road 
was covered with dead leaves, borne to this region on the 
gale, from the distant trees. Thus they saw the wreck of 
nature, without beholding any promise of her revival. 
The sight of the mountains charmed Lord Nevil : while 
we Uve among plains, the earth seems only made to bear 
and nourish man ; but in picturesque countries we see the 
impress of their Creator's power and genius ; yet man is 
every where famiharised with nature : the roads he frames 
ascend the steep, or fathom the abyss ; nothing is inacces- 
sible to him, save the great mystery of his own being. In 
Morienne the winter was more rigorously felt at every 
step : one might fancy one's self wending northward, in 
approaching Mont Cenis. Lucy, who had never travelled 
before, was alarmed at finding the ice render the horses' 
pace unsteady : she hid her fears, but reproached herself 
for having brought her little one with her ; often doubting 
whether the resolve to do so had been purely moral, or 
whether the hope of growing dearer to Oswald, by con- 
stantly associating her image with that of their beloved 
child, had not deadened her to the risks Juliet would thus 
incur. Lucy was apt to perplex her mind with secret 
scruples of conscience ; the more virtuous we are the more 
this kind of fastidiousness increases : she had no resource, 
save in her long and silent prayers, which somewhat tran- 
quillised her spirit. The landscape now took a more terrific 
character : the snow fell heavily on ground already covered 
with it. They seemed entering the Hell of Ice described 
by Dante. From the foot of the precipices to the moun- 
tain tops all varieties were concealed. The pines, now 
clothed in white, were mirrored in the water like spectral 
trees. Oswald and Lucy gazed in silence ; speech would 
have seemed presumptuous ; nature was frozen into dumb- 
ness, and they were mute like her. Suddenly they per- 
ceived, on an immense extent of snow, a long file of darkly 

corinne; or italy. 3d5 

elad figures carrying a bier towards a church, i These 
priests, the only living beings who broke this desert soli- 
tude, preserved their wonted pace. The thought of death 
lent it a gravity which not even the bleakness of the air 
tempted them to forget. Here was the mourning of na- 
ture and of man for vegetable and for human life. No 
colour was left, — that black, that white, thus united, 
struck the soul with awe. "^ What a sad omen ! " sighed 
Lady Nevil. — ^^ Lucy," interrupted Oswald, "trust me, 
it is not for you." — " Alas ! " he thought, '^ it was not 
beneath such auspices I travelled with Corinne. Where is 
she now ? may not these gloomy objects be but warnings 
of what I am to suflPer } " Lucy's nerves were shaken by 
the terrors of her journey. This kind of fear is almost 
unknown to an intrepid man ; and she mistook for care- 
lessness of her, Oswald's ignorance of such alarm's possible 
existence. The common people, who have no better exer- 
cise for fancy, love to exaggerate all hazards, and delight in 
the effect they thus produce on their superiors. The inn- 
keepers, every winter, tell their guests wild tales of '' le 
Monty" as if it were an immovable monster, guarding the 
vales that lead to the land of promise. They watch the 
weather for formidable symptoms, and beg all foreigners to 
avoid crossing Mont Cenis during la tourmente. This is 
a wind announced by a white cloud, spread hke a sheet 
in the air, and by degrees covering the whole horizon. 
Lucy had gained all possible information, unknown to 
Nevil, who was too much occupied by the sensation of re- 
entering Italy to think on these reports. The possible 
end and aim of his pilgrimage agitated his wife still more 
than did the journey itself, and she judged every thing un- 
favourably. In the morning of their ascent, several pea- 
sants beset her with forebodings ; those hired to carry her 
up the mountain, however, assured her that there was no- 
thing to apprehend : she looked at Nevil, and saw that he 
laughed at these predictions ; therefore, piqued by his se- 
curity, she professed herself ready to depart. He knew 
not how much this resolution cost her, but mounted a horse 
and followed the litter which bore his wife and child. The 
way was easy, till they were about the centre of the flat 


which precedes the descent, when a violent hurricane arose. 
Drifts of snow Winded Lucy's bearers, and often hid Os- 
wald from her view. The religious men who devote their 
lives to succour travellers on the Alps began to ring their 
alarm bell ; yet, though this sound proclaimed the neigh- 
bourhood of benevolent pity, its rapid and heavy repetition 
seemed more expressive of dismay than assistance. Lucy 
hoped that Oswald would propose passing the night at this 
monastery ; but, as she said nothing, he thought it best to 
hasten on, while daylight lasted. Lucy's bearers enquired, 
with some uneasiness, if she Avished them to descend. 
'' Yes," she said, " since my Lord does not oppose it." She 
erred in thus suppressing her feelings : the presence of her 
child would have excused them ; but, while we love one by 
whom we cannot deem ourselves beloved, each instant 
brings its own sense of humiliation. Oswald remained on 
horseback, though that was the least safe method of descent, 
but he believed himself thus secure against losing sight of 
his wife and child. From the summit Lucy looked down 
on the abrupt road which she would have taken for a pre- 
cipice, had not steeps still more perpendicular been close at 
hand. She pressed her darling to her heart with strong 
emotion. Oswald observed this, and, quitting his saddle, 
joined the men who carried her litter. The graceful zeal 
with which he did this filled her eyes with tears ; but, at 
that instant, the whirlwind rose so furiously that her bearers 
fell on their knees, exclaiming, ^' Oh God, protect us ! " 
Lucy regained her courage ; and, raising herself, held 
Juliet towards Lord Nevil. '' Take your child, my love ! '* 
she said. Oswald received it, answering, ' And you too- 
come, I can carry ye both!" — ^^ No," she said, "^ only 
save her!" — "Save!" he repeated : "is there any dan- 
ger.? Unhappy wretches — why did you not tell us?" 
— " They did," interrupted Lucy. — *' And you concealed 
it from me ? How have I merited this cruel reserve ? " 
He wrapped his cloak round Juliet, and cast down his eyes 
in deep disquietude ; but Heaven most mercifully appeased 
the storm, and lent a ray which showed them the fertile 
plains of Piedmont, In another hour they arrived un- 
harmed at Novalaise, the first Italian town after crossing 



Mont Cenis. On entering the inn Lucy embraced her 
child, and returned her fervent thanks to God. Oswald 
leaned pensively near the fire, and, when she rose, held out 
his hand to her, saying, " You were alarmed then, love } " 
— "Yes, dear." — "Why would you go on?" — "You 
seemed impatient to proceed." — " Do you not know that, 
above all things, I dread exposing you to pain or danger ? " 
— " It is for Juliet that they are to be dreaded," she re- 
plied, taking the little one on her lap to warm it, and 
twisting round her fingers the beautiful black curls that the 
snow had matted on that fair brow.* The mother and 
child formed so charming a picture, that Oswald gazed on 
them with tender admiration ; but Lucy's silence dis- 
couraged the feeling which might else have led to a mutual 
understanding. They arrived at Turin, where the season 
was unusually severe. The vast apartments of Italy were 
destined to receive the sun. Their freshness in summer is 
most welcome ; but, in the depth of winter, they seem 
cheerless deserts ; and their possessors feel like pigmies in 
the abode of giants. The death of Alfieri had just oc- 
casioned a general mourning among his proud countrymen. 
Nevil no longer recognised the gaiety formerly so dear to 
him. The absence of her he loved disenchanted both 
nature and art : he sought intelligence of her, and learnt 
that for five years she had published nothing, but lived in 
seclusion at Florence. He resolved on going thither; not to 
remain, and thus violate the affection he owed to Lucy, but 
to tell Corinne how ignorant he had been of her residence 
in Scotland. In crossing Lombardy he sighed, *' How 
beautiful this was, when all those elms were in full leaf, 
with vines linking them together!" — '^ How beautiful it 
was," thought Lucy, " while Corinne shared it with you !" 
A humid fog, such as oft arises in so well watered a land, 
obscured their view of the country. During the night they 
heard the deluge of southern rain fall on, nay, through the 
roof, as if water were pursuing them with all the avidity of 

• Madame de Stael gave Lucy, at three years of age, hair long enough to 
make a bracelet. She was thinking of French children. The formal Edgar, 
monds were not more likely to deviate from the English fashion than to 
christen Nevil's daughter Juliette. — Tb. 


fire. Lucy sought in vain for the charm of Italy : it 
seemed that every thing conspired to veil it in gloom for 
Oswald and herself. 


Since Lord Nevil had been in Italy, he had not spoken a 
word of the language ; it even made him ill to hear it. 
On the evening of his arrival at Milan he heard a tap at 
the door, which was followed by the entrance of a man, 
whose dark and prominent face would have been expressive, 
if animated by natural enthusiasm : it wore an unvaryingly 
gracious smile, and a look that strove to be poetical. He 
stood at the door, improvising verses in praise of the 
group before him, but such as might have suited any other 
husband, wife, or child, just as truly ; and so exaggerated, 
that the speaker seemed to think poetry ought to have no 
connection with truth. Oswald perceived that he was a 
Roman ; yet, harmonious as were the sounds he uttered, 
the vehemence of his declamation served but to indicate 
more plainly the unmeaning insipidity of all he said. 
Nothing could be more painful for Oswald than to hear 
the Roman tongue thus spoken, for the first time after so 
long an interval, to see his dearest memories travestied, 
and feel his melancholy renewed by an object so ridiculous. 
Lucy guessed all this, and would have dismissed the im- 
provisatore ; but it was impossible to make him hear her : 
he paced the chamber all gesture and exclamation, heedless 
of the disgust he dealt his hearers, proceeding like a 
machine that could not stop till after a certain moment. 
At last that time arrived, and Lucy paid him to depart. 
'' Poetic language," said Oswald, ^^ is so easily parodied 
here, that it ought to be forbidden all save those who are 
worthy to employ it." — " True," observed Lucy, perhaps 
a little too pointedly : " it is very disagreeable to be re- 
minded of what you admire, by such a burlesque as we 
have just endured." — ^' Not so," he answered ; '^ the con- 
trast only makes me more deeply feel the power of genius. 


This same language, which may he so miserably degradedj 
became celestial poetry from the lips of Corinne — your 
sister." Lucy felt overwhelmed : he had not pronounced 
that name to her before ; the addition of your sister 
sounded as if conveying a reproach. She was half suffo- 
cated ; and had she given way to her tears, this moment 
might have proved the sweetest in her life ; but she re- 
strained them, and the embarrassment between herself and 
husband became more painful than before. On the next 
day the sun broke forth, like an exile returning to his own 
land. The Nevils availed themselves of his brightness to 
visit Milan cathedral, the chef-d'oeuvre of Gothic architec- 
ture: it is built in the form of a cross, — fair melancholy 
image in the midst of wealth. Lofty as it is, the orna- 
ments are elaborate as those lavished on some minute 
object of admiration. What time and patience must it 
have cost ! This perseverance towards the same aim is 
transmitted from age to age, and the human race, stable at 
least in thought, can leave us proofs of this, imperishable 
almost as thought itself. A Gothic building engenders 
true religion : it has been said that the popes have con- 
secrated more wealth to the building of modern temples 
than devotion to the memory of old churches. The light, 
falling through coloured glass, the singular forms of the 
architecture, unite to give a silent image of that infinite 
mystery which the soul for ever feels, and never compre- 

Lord and Lady Nevil left Milan when the earth was 
covered with snow. This is a sadder sight in Italy thart 
elsewhere, because it is unusual : the natives lament bad 
weather as a pubUc calamity. Oswald was vain of his 
favourite country, and angry that it would not smile its best 
for Lucy. They passed through Placenta, Parma, and 
Modena. The churches and palaces of each are too vast, in 
proportion to the number and fortune of the inhabitants : 
all seems arranged for the reception of the great, who as 
yet have but sent some of their retinue forward. On the 
morning of their reaching Taro, the floods were thunder- 
ing from the Alps and Apennines, with such frightful 
rapidity, that their roar scarce announced them ere thejr 

B B 


came. Bridges are hardly practicable over rivers that so 
often rise above the level of the plain. Oswald and Lucy 
found their course suddenly checked. All boats had been 
washed away by the current ; and they were obliged to wait 
tiU the Italians, who never hurry themselves, chose to 
bring them back. The fog confounded the water with the 
sky; and the whole spectacle rather resembled the descrip- 
tions of Styx than the bounteous streams lent as refresh- 
ments to the burning south. Lucy, trembling lest the 
intense cold should hurt her child, bore it into a fisher's 
hut, in the centre of which a fire had been kindled, as is 
done in Russia. 

^' Where is your lovely Italy ? " she asked Oswald, with 
a smile. ^' I know not when I shall regain her," he an- 
swered, sadly. Approaching Parma, and all the cities on 
that road, they perceived from far the flat-terraced roofs 
that give Italy so original an air. Churches and spires 
stand forth boldly amid these buildings ; and, after seeing 
them, the northern-pointed roofs, so constructed to permit 
the snow to run off, create a very unpleasant sensation. 
Parma still preserves some fine pictures by Correggio. Os- 
wald took Lucy to a church which boasts a fresco of his. 
La Madonna della Scala: while he drew the curtain from 
before it, Lucy raised Juliet in her arms, that she might 
better see the picture ; and by chance their attitude was 
nearly the same with that of the Virgin and Child. Lucy 
had so much of the modest grace which Correggio loved to 
paint, that Oswald looked from the ideal to the real with 
surprise. As she noticed this her lids declined, and the 
resemblance became still more strong. Correggio is, perhaps, 
the only painter who knew how to give downcast eyes an 
expression affecting as that of those raised to heaven. The 
veil he throws over such looks, far from decreasing their 
thoughtful tenderness, lends it the added charm of hea- 
venly mystery. The Madonna is almost detached from 
the wall. A breath might blow its hues away ; this fear 
gives it a melancholy interest : its adorers oft return to 
bid such fleeting beauty a fond farewell. As they left the 
church, Oswald said to Lucy, " A little while, and that 
picture will be no more ! but its model is mine own for 


ever." These soft words touched her heart : she pressed 
his hand, about to ask him if he could not trust her ten- 
derness ; but, as when he spoke coldly, her pride forbade 
complaint, so when his language made her blest, she 
dreaded to disturb that moment's peace, in an attempt to 
render it more durable. Thus always she found reasons for 
her silence, hoping that time, resignation, and gentleness, 
might bring at last the happy day which would disperse 
her apprehensions. 


Lord Nevil's health improved, yet cruel anxiety still agi- 
tated his heart. He constantly sought tidings of Corinne ; 
but every where heard the same report : how different 
from the strain in which her name had once been breathed ! 
Could the man who had destroyed her peace and fame 
forgive himself.'* Travellers drawing near Bologna are 
attracted by two very high towers; the one, however, 
leans so obliquely as to create a sensation of alarm ; vainly 
is it said to have been built so, and to have lasted thus for 
centuries ; its aspect is irresistibly oppressive. Bologna 
boasts a great number of highly informed men ; but the 
common people are disagreeable. Lucy listened for the 
melodious Italian, of which she had been told; but the 
Bolognese dialect painfully disappointed her. Nothing 
more harsh can exist in the north. They arrived at the 
height of the Carnival, and heard, both day and night, 
cries of joy that sounded like those of rage. A population- 
like that of the Lazzaroni eat and sleep beneath the nu- 
merous arcades that border the streets : during winter they 
carry a little fire in an earthen vessel. In cold weather 
no nightly music is heard in Italy : it is replaced in 
Bologna by a clamour truly alarming to foreigners. The 
manners of the populace are much more gross in some few 
southern states than can be found elsewhere. In-door life 
perfects social order : the heat that permits people to live 
thus in public engenders many savage habits. (7) Lord 

B B 2 

372 corinne; or italy. 

and Lady Nevil could not walk forth without being as- 
sailed by beggars, the scourge of Italy. As they passed 
the prisons, whose barred windows look upon the street, 
the captives demanded alms with immoderate laughter. " It 
is not thus," said Lucy, " that our people show themselves 
the fellow-citizens of their betters. Oh, Oswald ! can such 
a country please you ? " — " Heaven forbid," he replied, 
" that I should ever forget my own ! but when you have 
passed the Apennines you will hear the Tuscans, — meet 
intellectual and animated beings, who_, I hope, will render 
you less severe." 

Italians, indeed, must be judged according to circum- 
stances. Sometimes the evil that hath been spoken of 
them seems but true; at others, most unjust. All that 
has previously been described of their governments and 
religion proves that much may be asserted against them 
generally, yet that many private virtues are to be found 
amongst them. The individuals chance throws on the 
acquaintance of our travellers decide their notions of the 
whole race : such judgment, of course, can find no basis 
in the pubhc spirit of the country. Oswald and Lucy 
visited the collections of pictures that enrich Bologna. 
Among them was Dominichino's Sibyl ; before which Nevil 
unconsciously lingered so long, that his wife at last dared 
ask him, if this beauty said more to his heart than Correg- 
gio's Madonna had done. He understood, and was amazed 
at so significant an appeal : after gazing on her for some 
time, he replied, *' The Sibyl utters oracles no more : her 
beauty, like her genius, is gone ; but the angelic features 
I admired in Correggio have lost none of their charms ; and 
the unhappy wretch who so much wronged the one will 
never betray the other." He left the place, to conceal his 

corinnb; or italy. 373 




Oswald now, for the first time, comprehended that Lucy 
was aware of his affection for her sister, and deemed that 
her coolness might have sprung from secret disquietude : 
yet now he feared an explanation as much as she had done; 
and now she would have told him ail had he required it ; 
but it would have cost him too much to speak of Corinne, 
just as he was about to rejoin her, especially with a person 
whose character he so imperfectly knew. They crossed the 
Apennines, and regained the sweet climate of Italy. The 
sea breeze, so glowing in summer, now spread a gentle 
heat. The turf was green, the autumn hardly over, and 
yet the spring already peeping forth. The markets teemed 
with oranges and pomegranates. The Tuscan tongue was 
audible; and all Oswald's dearest memories revived, though 
now unmixed with hope. The mild air would have ren- 
dered Lucy confiding, had he encouraged her. Had a 
Corinne been with them, she would soon have learned their 
secrets ; but the more congenial they were, in natural and 
national reserve, the less easy was it for them to break the 
ice which kept their hearts asunder. 


As soon as they arrived in Florence, Nevil wrote to Castel 
Forte ; and in a few minutes the Prince came to him. It 
was some time ere either spoke ; at last Nevil asked for 
Corinne. " I have none but sad news for you," said her 
friend : ^' she grows weaker every day ; sees no one but 
myself, and can scarce attempt any occupation ; yet I 
think she has been calmer since we learnt you were in 

B B 3 


Italy ; though I cannot disguise from you, that at first her 
emotions on that intelligence caused her a relapse of fever. 
She has not told me her intentions, for I carefully avoid 
your name." — "Have the goodness. Prince," said Oswald, 
" to give her the letter I wrote you nearly five years since : 
it contained a detail of all the circumstances that prevented 
my hearing of her journey to Scotland before I married. 
When she has read it, ask her to receive me. I long to 
justify myself with her, if possible. Her esteem is essential 
to me, though I can no longer pretend to more." — " I will 
obey your desires, my Lord," said Castel Forte, " and wish 
that I may in any way be of service." Lady Nevil now 
entered the room. Oswald made her known to his friend. 
She met him coldly. He gazed on her with much attention, 
sighed, thought of Corinne, and took leave. Oswald fol- 
lowed him. " Lady Nevil is very beautiful," said the 
Prince : " so fresh and young ! Alas ! my poor love is 
no longer so ; yet forget not, my Lord, that she was a bril- 
liant creature when you saw her first." — " Forget!" ex- 
claimed Oswald; " no, nor ever forgive myself." He 
could utter no more, and for the rest of the day was 
gloomily silent. Lucy sought not to disturb him : her for- 
bearance was unlucky; for he only thought, " Had Corinne 
beheld me sad, she would have striven to console me." The 
next morning his anxiety early led him to Castel Forte. 
■" Well ! " he cried, "' what says she ? " — " That she will 
not see you," answered the Prince. — " And her motives ?" 
— " 1 found her yesterday, in spite her weakness, pacing 
the room all agitation, her paleness sometimes giving way 
to a vivid blush, that faded as suddenly as it rose. I 
told her your request : after some instants' silence, she 
said — if you exact from me her own words, — ' That man 
has done me too much wrong already; but the foe who 
threw me into prison, banished and proscribed me, has not 
yet brought my spirit quite so low as he may think. I have 
suffered more than woman ever endured beside — alternate 
fondness and indignation making thought a perpetual tor- 
ture. Oswald should remember that I once told him it 
would cost me more to renounce my admiration than my 
love. He has despoiled the object of my worship : he de- 


ceived me, voluntarily or otherwise — no matter : he is not 
what I believed him. He sported for nearly a year with 
my affection ; and, when he ought to have defended me, 
when his actions should have proved he had a heart, how 
did he treat me ? Can he boast of having made one ge- 
nerous sacrifice ? No ! he is happy now, possessing all the 
advantages best appreciated by the world. I am dying ; let 
him leave me in peace ! " — "^ These words are very harsh," 
sighed Oswald. — " She is changed by suflPering," admitted 
Castel Forte ; " yet I have often found her so charitable, 
that, let me own, she has defended you against me." — 
" You think me unpardonable, then ? " — " If you permit 
me to say so. The injuries we may do women hurt not us in 
public opinion. The fragile idol of to-day may be broken 
to-morrow, without finding one protector; for that very 
reason do I respect the sex, whose moral welfare can find 
its safety but in our bosoms. A mortal stab is punished by 
the law ; but breaking a tender heart is a theme for jest. 
I would forgive murder by poniard soonest." — "^ Believe 
me," cried Nevil, '' I, too, have been wretched, — that is my 
sole extenuation ; but formerly she would have listened to 
it, now it avails me nothing ; yet I will write to her : I 
still believe, in spite of all that parts us, she may yet un- 
derstand me." — " \ will bear your letter, my Lord ; but I 
entreat you temper it well ; you guess not what you are 
to her. Years can but deepen an impression, when no 
new idea has divided its empire. Would you know in 
what state she is at present ? A fantasy, from which my 
prayers could not divert her, enables me to show you." 
He opened the door of another room; and Nevil first be- 
held a portrait of Corinne as she appeared in Juliet, on 
the night, of all others, when he felt most enamoured of 
her. The confidence of happiness breathed from each fea- 
ture. The memories of that festal time came back on Os- 
wald's heart ; but as he yielded to them, the prince took his 
hand, drew aside a crape from another picture, and showed 
him Corinne, painted that same year, in the black dress, such 
as she had never abandoned since her return from England. 
Her lost lover recollected the figure which had passed him 
in the Park: but above all was he struck with the total change 
B B 4 


in her Appearance. The long black lashes veiled her lan- 
guid eyes, and threw a shadow over the tintless cheek : 
beneath was written this line, from the Pastor Fido, — 

" A pena si pub dir, < Questa fu rosa ! ' " 
" Scarcely can we now say, * This was a rose I ' " 

'^ How ! " cried Lord Nevil ; " looks she like thi5 ? " — 
'' Within the last fortnight still worse/* returned the 
Prince ; and Oswald rushed from him, as if distracted. 


The unhappy man shut himself in his room. At the dinnef 
hour, Lucy, leading Juliet by the hand, tapped gently at 
his door : he opened it, saying, " Think not the worse of 
me, my dear, for begging that I may be left to myself to- 
day." His wife raised her child in her arms, and retired 
without a word. He now looked at the letter he had written 
to Corinne, and, bursting into tears, exclaimed, ^* Shall I^ 
then, make poor Lucy wretched too? What is my life worth; 
if it serves but to render all who love me miserable ?^' 

Letter from Lord Nevil to Corinne. 

" Were you not the most generous of human beings, 
what could I say to you, who might weigh me so low by 
reproaches, or still lower by your griefs ? I have done such 
ill to her I loved, that I almost believe myself a monster. 
Am I, Corinne ? I suffer so much, that I cannot think my- 
self an utter barbarian ! You know, when first I met you, 
I was a prey to despair, that nearly brought me to the 
grave : I sought not happiness, but struggled long against 
your attraction ; even when it triumphed, presentiments of 
misfortune lingered still. Sometimes I believed you des- 
tined by my father to make me once more feel myself as 
well beloved as I had been by him ; then did I fear to disi» 


obey his will, in marrying a foreigner. On ray return to 
England this sentiment prevailed, sanctioned as it was by 
parental authority. Had he still lived I should have felt a 
right to combat it ; but the dead cannot hear us, and the 
irrevocable commands of those now powerless possess a 
touching and a sacred force. — Once more surrounded by 
the ties* of country, I met your sister, selected for me by my 
sire, and well according with my wish for a regular, a quiet 
life. My weakness makes me dread some kinds of agitation : 
my mind is easily seduced by new hopes; but my sick soul 
shrinks from resolves that interfere with its original habits 
or aflfections. Yet, Corinne, had I known you were in 
England, that proof of tenderness would have decided me. 
Ah ! wherefore vaunt I what I would have done ? Should 
we have been content ? Am I capable of being so ? Could 
I ever have chosen any one fate, without still pining after 
some other ? When you restored my liberty I fell into the 
common error, telling myself that so superior a woman 
might easily be estranged from me. Corinne, I have 
wounded your heart, I know ; but I thought mine the only 
sacrifice ; I deemed you would forget me. I cannot deny 
that Lucy is worthy of a still warmer attachment than I 
could give her ; but since I learnt your voyage to England, 
and the sorrow I had dealt you, my life has been a perpetual 
pain, i sought for death, certain that when you heard I 
was no more, you would forgive me. Doubtless you can 
oppose to this years of fidelity and regret, such as my ingra- 
titude ill merits ; yet think — a thousand complicated cir- 
cumstances invade the constancy of man. Imagine, if 
possible," that I have neither given nor received felicity; that 
my heart has been lonely since I left you, scarce daring even 
to commune with itself; that the mother of my child, who 
has so many titles to my love, is a stranger to my history 
and feelings; in truth, that my habitual sadness has reduced 
me to the state from which your cares, Corinne, once ex- 
tricated me. If I have returned to Italy, not for my health 
(you cannot suspect me of any love for life), but to bid you 
farewell, can you refuse to see me but once more ? I wish 
it, because I think that it would benefit you ; my own suf- 
ferings less prompt this desire. What use were it that I 

^8 corinne; or italy. 

am miserable, that a dreadful weight presses upon my heart, 
if I came hither without obtaining pardon from you ? I 
ought to be unhappy, and am sure of being so ; but I feel 
certain that you would be solaced, if you could think upon 
me as your friend, and read, in Oswald's looks and accents, 
how dear you are to the criminal whose fate is far more 
altered than his heart. I respect the ties I have formed, 
and love your sister ; but the human breast, wild and incon- 
sistent as it is, can reconcile that tenderness with what I feel 
for you. I have nothing to say for myself that can be 
written ; all I might explain would but condemn me ; yet 
if you saw me prostrate before you, through all my faults 
and duties, you would perceive what you are to me still, 
and that conversation would leave a balm for both. Our 
health is failing : Heaven may not accord us length of days. 
Let then whichever may be destined to precede the other 
feel regretted by the dear friend left behind. The innocent 
alone deserve such joy ; but may it not be granted to the 
guilty } Corinne, sublime soul ! you who can read all hearts, 
guess what I cannot add, and comprehend me, as you used 
to do. Let me but see you; let my pallid lips touch your 
weak hand ! It was not I alone who wrought this ruin* 
No ; the same sentiment consumed us both : destiny struck 
two hearts, devoting one to crime; that one, Corinne, may 
not be the least pitiable." 


" If I required but to see and pardon you, I could not 
for an instant refuse. Why is it that I do not feel resent- 
ment, although the pangs you have caused me are so dread- 
ful ? I must still love you, not to hate. Religion alone 
would not disarm me thus. There have been moments 
when my reason has left me; others far sweeter, when I hoped 
to die before the day could end; and some in which I have 
doubted even virtue : you were to me its image here below: 
there was no guide for either my thoughts or feelings, when 
the same blow struck both my admiration and my love. 
What would have become of me without Heaven's help? 
Every thing in this world was poisoned by your image : 

corinne; or italy. W5, 

one sole asylum was left, and God received me. My 
strength decays, but not that supporting enthusiasm. I 
joy to think that the best aim in life is to become worthy 
of eternity : our bliss, our bane, alike tend to this purpose ; 
and you were chosen to uproot the too strong hold I had on 
earth. Yet when I saw your handwriting, learnt that you 
were but on the other side of the river, a fearful tumult rose 
within me : incessantly was I obliged to tell myself, ' My 
sister is his wife.' To see you again appeared felicity: I 
will not deny that my heart, inebriated afresh, preferred 
these indefinite raptures to an age of calm ; but Providence 
has not abandoned me in this peril. Are you not the 
husband of another ? What then have I to say to you ? 
Is it for me to die in your arms ? What would my con- 
science suffer, if I made no sacrifice ? if I permitted myself 
another hour with you ? I can only appear before my God 
with any thing like confidence by renouncing it. This re- 
solution may appease my soul. Such happiness as I felt 
while you loved me is not in harmony with our mortal 
state ; it agitates us, because we feel its fleetness : but 
religious meditation, that aims at self-improvement, and 
refers every cause to duty, is a state of peace ; and I know 
not what ravages the mere sound of your voice would make 
on the repose I believe I have regained. Why do you tell 
me that your health is impaired ? Alas ! I am no longer 
your nurse ; but still I suffer with you. May God bless 
and prolong your days, my Lord ! Be happy, but be so 
through piety. A secret communion with Divinity gives 
us in ourselves the power of confiding to a Being who con- 
soles us : it makes two friends of one spirit. Do you still 
seek for what the world calls happiness ? Where will you 
find more than my tenderness would have bestowed? 
Know you that in the deserts of the New World I should 
have blest my lot had you permitted me to follow you ? I 
could have served you like a slave, have knelt before you 
as a heavenly being, had you but loved me truly. What 
have you done with so much faith ? You have changed it 
into an affliction peerless as itself. Outrage me not, then, 
by one hope of happiness, except in prayer : let our 
thoughts meet in heaven ! Yet when I feel myself about 


corinne; or italy* 

to die, perhaps I will be taken somewhere whence I may 
behold you pass. Assuredly when my failing eyes can see 
no more, your image will be with me ; but might not a 
recent review of your features render it more distinct? 
Deities of old were never present at the hour of death, 
so I forbid you mine ; but I should Hke to see you per- 
fectly when Oswald, Oswald ! behold how weak I am, 

when abandoned to your recollection ! Why has not Lucy 
sought me ? Though she is your wife, she is still my sister. 
I have some kind and even generous things to tell her. 
And your child — I ought not to meet you ; but you are 
surrounded by my family. Do they disown me still ? or 
fear ye that poor little Juliet would be scared at seeing me? 
Ghost as I look, 1 yet could smile upon your daughter. 
Adieu, my Lord, adieu ! Remember that I might call you 
brother. At least you will, mourn for me externally, and, 
as a kinsman, follow my remains to Rome: let them be borne 
by the road where my car passed ; and pause upon the spot 
where you restored my crown. Yet no, I am wrong, Os- 
wald : I would exact nothing that could afflict you, only 
one tear, and sometimes a fond look towards the heaven 
where I shall soon await you." 


Many days elapsed ere Oswald could regain his composure : 
he avoided the presence of his wife, and passed whole 
hours on the banks of the river that separated him from 
Corinne; often tempted to plunge amid its waves, that 
they might bear his body to the abode he never must enter 
living. Amazed as he was at Corinne's wish to see her 
sister, he longed to gratify it ; yet how introduce the sub- 
ject ? He saw that Lucy was hurt by his distress, and hoped 
that she would question him ; but she forbore, merely ex- 
pressing a desire to visit Rome or Naples : he always 
begged a brief delay, and Lucy, with cold dignity, was 


Oswald, at least, couljl secure Corinne the presence of 
his little daughter, and secretly bade the nurse take Juliet 
to her. He met them on their return, and asked the child 
how she had enjoyed her visit. She replied by an Italian 
phrase, and with an accent so resembling Corinne's, that 
her father started. " Who taught you that, dear } " he 
asked. — '' The lady," she replied. — ** And how did she 
behave to you?" — "Oh, she kissed me, and cried; I 
don't know why; but it made her worse, for she looks very 
ill, papa." — " Do you love her, darling?" — '^ That I do. 
I'll go to her every day. She has promised to teach me 
all she knows ; and says, that she will make me grow hke 
Corinne : what's that, pa ? the lady did not tell me." Lord 
Nevil could not answer : he withdrew, to conceal his agita- 
tion, but bade the nurse take Juliet daily to Corinne, 
Perhaps he erred in disposing of his child without her mo- 
ther's consent; but in a few days the young pupil's progress 
was astonishing : her masters for Italian and music were all 
amazed. Nothing had ever pained Lucy more than her 
sister's influence over Juliet's education. The child in- 
formed her that, ill as the lady seemed, she took great 
pains with her. Lucy's heart would have melted, could 
she have seen in all this any thing but a design to win 
Nevil back. She was divided between the natural wish of 
being sole directress for her daughter, and self-reproach at 
the idea of withholding her from such valuable instructions. 
One day Oswald came in as Juliet was practising a music 
lesson. She held a lyre proportioned to her size ; and her 
pretty arms fell into Corinne's own attitude so perfectly, 
that he felt gazing on the miniature copy of a fine picture, 
with the added grace of childish innocence. He could not 
speak, but sunk, trembling, on a seat. Juliet then played 
the Scotch air which he had heard at Tivoli, before the 
design from Ossian ; he listened breathlessly. Lucy, un- 
seen, stole behind him : as Juliet ceased, her father took 
her on his knee, and said, " The lady on the banks of the 
Arno taught you this, did she not?" — " Yes, papa; but 
it hurt her very much : she was so ill while she taught me, 
that I begged her to leave off, but she would not. She 
made me promise to play you that tune every year, on a par- 


ticular day, I believe it was the 17th of November." — " My 
God ! " cried Oswald, bursting into tears. Lucy now stepped 
forward, and, taking Juliet by the hand, said, hastily, 
" My Lord, it is too much to rob me of my child's affection ; 
that solace, at least, is due to my misfortunes." She re- 
tired. Oswald would have followed her, but was refused. 
At the dinner hour he was told that she had been out for 
some time, not saying where. He was fearfully alarmed at 
her absence; but she shortly returned, with a calm and 
gentle air, such as he little expected. He would now have 
confided in her, and gained her pardon by sincerity, but 
she replied, "^ Explanation, indeed, is needful to us both ; 
yet, my dear Lord, permit me still to defer it : you will soon 
know my motives for this request." Her address, he per- 
ceived, was more animated than usual ; and every day its 
•warmth, its interest, increased. He could not understand 
this change : its cause is soon told. All that Lucy so long